The attorney for the woman who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment in 1999 has spoken. Well, not really. As predicted, she sent her attorney out to the media – she continues to refuse to disclose her identity, answer questions, or provide any details whatsoever about the alleged incident. Her attorney’s statement is perhaps the most vacuous statement I have ever seen an attorney make, and that is truly saying something indeed.
Contrary to the assertions of my esteemed colleague streiff, this has nothing to do with blaming messengers or victims. This has everything to do with the fact that it is impossible to evaluate the credibility of an anonymous accusation that contains absolutely no factual details. And the assertion that this woman is somehow not anonymous because someone knows who she is distorts the meaning of the word “anonymous” beyond recognition. Woodward and Bernstein knew who Deep Throat was – that doesn’t mean he wasn’t anonymous to the public, which is the only kind of anonymity that matters in this case.
If this woman really suffered sexual harassment at the hands of Herman Cain then he deserves to take a lot of lumps – perhaps even the destruction of his entire political career, depending on the circumstances. But there is no way to judge whether that is the case– none whatsoever. The accuser’s lawyer said repeatedly in his statement that the accuser does not wish to relive the incident – however, literally the only point served by his null set statement is ensuring that the story lived on in the news cycle.
I share in the belief that Cain should not be the GOP frontrunner. I find his 9-9-9 plan to be at best a fairytale solution that will never pass Congress and at worst a massive tax hike on a significant number of Americans. His handling of the press (including this situations and others) indicates that he is not capable of taking on Barack Obama and winning. I have serious questions about whether his experience has prepared him adequately for the job of actually being President. However, it sets a dangerous precedent for Cain to be knocked off his pedestal in this way.
I am the farthest thing in the world from Herman Cain’s Lanny Davis. The specifics of Paula Jones’ (note, someone whose name and identity we knew from the beginning) allegations were that on a specific date, Clinton used the AHP as escorts while he took her up to a hotel room, dropped trau, and invited her to perform a very specific act. These facts were checkable and verifiable to see if they at the very least passed the smell test (by, for instance, verifying that Clinton was at least at the given hotel on the given date). Further, the fact of Jones identity allowed people to know whether her testimony should be disregarded like Anita Hill’s – who had, for starters, followed the allegedly predatory Clarence Thomas around from job to job for years.
I have no idea why it is even a mildly controversial position to state that before a serious accusation is given credence against a Republican by fellow Republicans, we ought to know either the identity of the person making the accusation or enough specifics to a) verify them against known facts and b) evaluate their seriousness so that we can know what should happen if they are true. In this case, we have neither. Maybe the allegations are true, maybe they are not. I hope we can get to the bottom of them. But anyone who claims to be able to know on the basis of the facts presented has had their judgment clouded by something other than the facts.
One last remark – it has been claimed that settlements of $30K or $45K lend merit to the accusers’ claims. Just for reference for those fortunate enough to have consumed legal services, if you as an organization contacted a nice Atlanta firm to defend you in a civil harassment lawsuit, they would almost certainly demand a $25K retainer and explain to you that the retainer would likely be gone before they were done answering the initial round of discovery. $30K is the textbook definition of a “nuisance settlement” and the fact that the woman accepted so little is in fact indicative to me that her case wasn’t an exceptionally strong one. If the NRA had settled for $200K I would be impressed and if it had been $500K I would be fairly sure Cain was in serious trouble here.
The bottom line here is that you can count me out of the gleeful campaign to cooperate with the media to personally destroy a Republican before literally any facts of note are in.