I have had fun with it too. I think it is hilarious that the same day the Politico's Roger Simon claims being racist gives you an advantage within the GOP, the Politico does a hit job on the black Republican running for office. It is kind of humorous.
I know the left accuses the right of racism at the drop of a hat, but I think we should resist actually buying into the Politico hit job being racist. Race has nothing to do with it. Opposition research does.
Below is all informed speculation on my part. I could be off base. But re-reading everything so far, looking at the timeline, and drawing on my past experience as a lawyer doing sexual harassment cases, I think I have a pretty good idea of what happened and what the ramifications are.
The short answer is that this is an opposition research hit by another Republican candidate against Herman Cain, it is not fatal in and of itself, but the Cain response will probably make for self-destruction. And there is one big question — even if this is a nothingburger, which I suspect it is for reasons I'll go into, can Herman Cain survive a crying victim of sexual harassment on television? Probably not well.
The Facts Behind the Story
On Monday, Ken Vogel of the Politico told Wolf Blitzer that about ten days prior to that interview the Politico approached Herman Cain and inquired about the sexual harassment. He said Cain had ten days.
Ten days? Why, that would be a few days after the CNN debate in Nevada where everyone piled on Herman Cain trying to take him out. And it failed. Cain weathered the storm well, even the devastating take down by Mitt Romney about Nevadans paying a bushel of taxes.
So the opposition does not take out Cain and the post debate polling shows Cain not just in the lead, but locking in a lead due to high likability.
Within days, someone leaks a sexual harassment story to the Politico.
Now, a word about the Politico. The Politico is a hack organization. The paper would much rather be first than right. They can always correct later. From John Edwards dropping out of the race in 2008 when he did not to Hillary Clinton not doing well in Pennsylvania despite the Politico's polling showing otherwise to whether John McCain is senile, the Politico is a merry band of largely Democrat leaning reporters who are spoon fed hit pieces. See also the Politico reporting Fred Thompson would drop out in Iowa in 2008. The Politico's goal is traffic to its website, not accuracy.
So, here's what I'm guessing happened. A Republican opponent to Herman Cain fed the Politico a story. Pay attention here. The Politico approached Herman Cain with nothing to go on. Herman Cain's reaction to their inquiry convinced them there was something.
That's why the Politico approached Cain ten days ago. The Politico never gives someone ten days when they want to do a hit job. But they had nothing until they got Herman Cain's reaction and only then they started digging. It took ten days to get everything together and run the story — timed for a Sunday night so they could ride the story a full week if possible, or longer. Again: the Politico is all about traffic, not accuracy.
This is all speculation on my part and I readily admit I could be completely wrong. Do not stop after reading this section, but go to the "Wild Card" heading because there is a huge, huge caveat to all of this. But if we assume that no one is lying, we have this situation:
- Herman Cain really could not remember anything about an eleven year old incident.
- The Chairman of the Board at the time and other senior board members had no knowledge of it.
- Several senior executives had no knowledge of it.
- The Director of Human Resources had no knowledge of it.
We have a lot of people who have no knowledge of the sexual harassment, but we also have two documented cases of sexual harassment. How is that possible?
Remember — this is 1999. Bill Clinton has just been impeached over sexual harassment related issues and lying about it. The left that fell in line and pretended it didn't matter was in a redemptive kick taking any and all allegations of sexual harassment seriously to repent.
Herman Cain is the CEO of one of the top 25 trade associations in Washington, D.C.
Had he sexually harassed someone, the victim would stand to make a killing.
And yet, despite the climate that existed in 1999, the Human Resources Director of the National Restaurant Association does not even recall investigating.
So what happened? Again, it is all informed speculation on my part, but what I think happened is that Herman Cain did, in fact, pass the buck to the association's counsel because he was conflicted out. The counsel looked into it, decided it was a nothing burger, decided a settlement was the cost of doing business, and didn't even run it up the flag pole. The association's counsel with another executive or two would have had the power to do that. They probably gave Herman Cain an executive summary of what happened and over eleven years it faded from memory.
The lawyer and executives who handled it deemed it so insignificant that Human Resources was not called in and the matter was disposed of. Eleven years later everybody forgot about it except a handful of people, including someone who was on the Board of Directors and heard the rumors, backed another Republican in the 2012 race, and decided it could be a useful hammer to use against Herman Cain if needed. So that person told their preferred candidate and, when Herman rose to glory and couldn't get taken out in mid-October's CNN debate, that campaign leaked it to the Politico.
Because eleven years had passed, people's memories were fuzzy and Herman has such an upstart campaign the Politico could run the story, sensationalize the hell out of the Cain campaign's flat footed response, and get huge traffic to their website.
And that flat-footed response? It was due to a rather insignificant matter eleven years ago that few people even remembered. The change in Cain's story from no settlement to there being a settlement? He no doubt called the general counsel of the association, who had worked for Cain back in 1999, and had his memory refreshed.
The settlement? $35,000.00.
When you file sexual harassment against the head of one of the top 25 trade associations in Washington the year after Bill Clinton is impeached for sexual harassment related lies, you're going to get more than $35,000.00 if you have a real claim, even if that is your entire year's salary.
The Wild Card
Here's the wild card.
There are two complaints. My guess is we know about the one Cain described where he said the woman was as high as his wife and did his hand in such a way under his chin.
But there is also the lady who claims he made sexual advances in a hotel room.
There are still lots of facts we don't know. More certain, how will Cain handle a crying victim on television giving her side of the story. The media will take the victim much more seriously than they take the alleged victimizer. Remember, in the news business today, news coverage can best be viewed not as left v. right, but victim vs. victimizer. The media loves a sympathetic victim.
More troubling is this by Chris Wilson. I know and respect Chris Wilson. He is not easily dismissed. Note though that Hot Air points out he works with a pro-Perry super PAC.
Interviewed today on KTOK's Mullins in the Morning, Wilson, of Wilson-Perkins-Allen Opinion Research headquartered in Washington, D.C. explained he was a witness to the incident. "I was the pollster at the National Restaurant Association when Herman Cain was head of it and I was around a couple of times when this happened and anyone who was involved with the NRA at the time, knew that this was gonna come up."
Wilson described the woman as a low level staffer who was maybe two years out of college. "This occurred at a restaurant in Crystal City (Virginia) and everybody was aware of it," he continued. "It was only a matter of time because so many people were aware of what took place, so many people were aware of her situation, the fact she left---everybody knew with the campaign that this would eventually come up."
UPDATE at 4:20 p.m. ET: Now there is a third woman.
The Cain Response
The Cain response is going to destroy his campaign if they don't act quick. There are reports out today that Cain refused questions, asking the media if it understands the word "no." That's not exactly something to say when the issue is sexual harassment and no meaning no. More troubling, his staff began pushing reporters.
Also, J.D. Gordon calling into Geraldo on Sunday night kept the story going in a bad direction a lot longer. Virtually every news story that came out Monday started with Gordon refusing to deny there was anything there. That hurt.
If the crying victim has a credible story, Cain's camp is going to have to be on its best A game. And there's going to be some serious behind the scenes undermining of Herman Cain within the GOP.
Remember, the establishment already has its preferred candidate. They want this race wrapped up ASAP. It's time to settle in the minds of the powers that be. With polling suggesting a Cain implosion just might help begin the shift toward settling for Romney, expect Cain to get little help from within the GOP establishment on this.
This is a make or break time for Herman Cain. It probably won't take him out unless the crying victim on television seems very credible, but it will slowly bleed his campaign if they don't handle it well.
Remember again please, Herman Cain had ten days to get in gear and prepare a response. He did not do it. Regardless of the facts or merit of the case, that's a problem.