The field of GOP Presidential candidates was winnowed by one today when accomplished businessman Herman Cain announced that he was suspending his campaign. It is not particularly surprising that Cain did not turn out to be the proverbial last man standing among his competitors. What is striking, however, is the speed and finality with which his political bid was derailed in the wake of accusations leveled by women whose lack of supporting evidence was outweighed only by the obvious benefits they stood to reap by becoming ever-present – for at least 15 minutes or so – fixtures on the evening talk show circuit.
Mind you, I am not one to downplay the seriousness of workplace harassment. However, patterns of behavior should apply equally to accuser and accused. How seriously are we to take the word of a woman whose record indicates that filing sexual harassment complaints – sexual harassment of a not overtly sexual nature, that is – is her modus operandi for career advancement. Or the opportunity afforded by a media tour to a woman who apparently hasn’t been able to gain or maintain employment in over thirteen years (and counting). And finally, what weight should be given to yet another perpetually unemployed associate who just this year lost a judgment for making slanderous and libelous remarks about a former business partner.
The drum, “where there is smoke, there’s fire” is oft pounded as a mechanism by which to bolster the women’s allegations since apparently, there is little by which to support them on their own merits. While smoke can often serve as an early warning, it can just as frequently be used to obscure that which actually lies beneath, or more likely in this case, behind it.
The media owes the American public diligence and truth in vetting our potential leaders. By the same token, the American people are also owed truth and accuracy in reporting. Stories, all angles of them, should be researched, scrutinized and fact-checked before being published for public consumption.
Our country was founded on the notion that any American, of any background, can make a bid for public office with no barriers to success barring those of public support. If we accept as the norm the notion that a small handful of people, regardless of the justness of or motivation behind their words and actions can determine the fate of any candidate, and consequently the outcome of any election, then our system of government by the people (and not just a few) is finished.
Should it come to pass that the manner of Herman Cain’s fall is the shape of things to come, then every American who wishes to participate in a vigorous and active civic life should be very, very afraid.