End of the road for Cain?


Limbaugh and others on the right were quick to defend Cain when it was revealed that his former employer, the National Restaurant Association, had settled two sexual harassment claims against him. Cain instantly denied knowledge of any such settlement — a monstrous fib, as it turned out — and since the allegation surfaced first in Politico, right-wing bloggers, muggers and moon-bayers were able to blame the press and do a Murdoch Maul on the women involved. The women were called gold-diggers and publicity hounds, and Limbaugh, as witty as he is handsome, was able to turn the name of one of the accusers, Sharon Bialek, into “buy a lick.” Ha, ha, ha.

I do not listen to Limbaugh, but as he is the voice of the Republican Party I want him to explain why having an extramarital affair is worse than sexually harassing a clutch of women. Note, we are dealing with mere allegations, but it is the allegations that are being treated so differently. What’s more, I want to know why Gingrich’s two extramarital affairs, both admitted and, of course, deeply regretted, are somehow not as damaging as Cain’s one — not admitted and still very much alleged. I happen to believe that none of these affairs, alleged or otherwise, is any of my business, and I would still vote for John F. Kennedy knowing what I now know, although I would hope he’d steer clear of mafia molls, possible communist spies and women with literary agents.

The reason, I suspect, that Gingrich is getting a pass and Cain is not is that the GOP needs Gingrich and has no further use for Cain. Gingrich could stop Mitt Romney, who is suspected of dark moderation, while Cain can stop no one from nothing. He is a novelty act that has grown tiresome, but he should not exit just quite yet. He ought to demand to know why he must leave and Gingrich can stay, or why, when you get right down to it, the GOP is so hung up over sex. K Street, that boulevard of broken dreams, is full of former and thwarted politicians who came a cropper on account of sex. I could call the roll, but this a blog and space is limited.

So, goodbye, Herman Cain . . . I suppose. The United States of America was never going to have a president named Herman anyway. But sex is a foul reason to go, a bit of ignominy that’s not deserved and will, tragically and almost certainly, affect speaking fees in the near future. After that, Herman Cain will be back. Count on it.

Richard Cohen writes a weekly political column for The Washington Post.

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