In breaking news this afternoon, a Georgia woman is claiming that she had a 13-year affair with Herman Cain. She says she has documents (whatever they might be) which can back it up. In what can only be described as the guiltiest-looking no-comment statement in the history of politics, Cain's lawyer offered this absurd response (especially hilarious parts in bold):
Mr. Cain has been informed today that your television station plans to broadcast a story this evening in which a female will make an accusation that she engaged in a 13-year long physical relationship with Mr. Cain. This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace – this is not an accusation of an assault - which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate.
Rather, this appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults - a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public. No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life. The public's right to know and the media's right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one's bedroom door.
Mr. Cain has alerted his wife to this new accusation and discussed it with her. He has no obligation to discuss these types of accusations publicly with the media and he will not do so even if his principled position is viewed unfavorably by members of the media.
One of two things is true about this statement. Either Mr. Cain and his attorney are basing their views on what is an appropriate subject of media scrutiny for political candidates on the way politics work on another planet (perhaps another galaxy, even), or they are basically trying to telegraph to us that he completely did it. After following Cain's campaign for the last several months, I would say either is equally likely. After all, basically the only reason a Presidential candidate would take a principled stand against admitting or denying that they had a multi-year affair on the woman to whom they are still married is if they have some principled objection to lying about having completely done it. And if that wasn't the intended message, then Cain's communications operation is even worse than we thought - which is really saying something.
Cain himself apparently went on CNN to talk about the allegations. CNN's headline is billing this appearance as a denial by Cain of the allegations. A few points:
- I watched the video at the link above and nowhere in there did he deny it. In fact, he did the opposite. He said that he didn't know enough about the allegations (apart from the fact that an acquaintance was going to allege a multi-year affair) to respond, but once the allegations became clear, his attorney would respond. Which sort of contradicts what his attorney said at about exactly the same time, which was that he wasn't going to even dignify the allegations with a response.
- If indeed Cain did issue a blanket denial (I didn't watch it live so maybe the CNN web monkeys cut the part where he actually denied any of the allegations), that also directly contradicts his lawyer's statement about the "principled stance" Cain was prepared to take on this issue.
Doesn't look good when a campaign can't get their story straight about something as basic as this, and shoots themselves in the feet multiple times in the process.
UPDATE: A couple of additional points, for those who might be suffering cognitive dissonance from this post as compared to my posts defending Cain from the sexual harassment allegations a few weeks back. At that time, we were told no details about who the women were, or any details about what Herman Cain was alleged to have done. I kind of felt the Cain campaign had a point in that it's awfully hard to respond to allegations of "sexual harassment" (which is a term that contains a significant amount of ambiguity) from anonymous women. This, however, is completely different. This woman has already come forth and given us her name, occupation, details of how she knew Cain, phone bills showing text messages with Cain, and details of how and when they allegedly met. To answer these allegations with the same sort of stonewalling (or even, more strenuous stonewalling) smacks of guilt. Sorry.
UPDATE II: I feel compelled to add one more thing. As hilarious as Lin Wood's statement is, he is definitely a competent lawyer. Which is to say, there is no way he would have released it unless he was convinced in his own mind that he had Cain's consent to do so. Make of that what you will.