Why Doesn’t Herman Cain Remember?
Herman Cain and his campaign are scrambling today to recover from allegations he was accused of sexual harassment twice while head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. Cain didn’t just deny the accusations; he tried to avoid the fact that they even existed, and was quickly caught in that blatant evasion. Unfortunately, even the worst revelations may not make a difference in the enchanted campaign of Cain.
Politico broke the story on Sunday, reporting the NRA had paid two women in settlements following allegations of sexual harassment against Cain; these settlements would have included an agreement that the women not discuss the case in the future. At first, the Cain campaign called the story a “baseless” political attack. Cain himself denied any knowledge of a “settlement.”
Just a day later, his campaign was confirming that such accusations existed, and a settlement was reached. Cain told Fox News‘ Greta Van Sustern he somewhat remembered a financial deal involving “maybe three months salary.”
“I don’t remember,” he added.
In a different PBS interview, when questioned if he had asked one of his accusers to meet him in a hotel room, he responded, “I have no recollection of that.”
Why does Herman Cain forget accusations of sexual harassment so easily? Wouldn’t that be a pretty memorable, unpleasant experience?
Similarly, in an impromptu interview on a Washington sidewalk, Politico’s Jonathan Martin badgered Cain with questions about the accusations.
Bizarrely, Cain smirked and asked Martin, “Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?
His tone, suggesting “what a stupid question,” is miles from appropriate. As we learned, yes, Cain was accused, so it wasn’t a stupid question at all. Was Cain assuming that this is so common, everyone has been accused at least once? (“Hey, I’m a normal guy, just like you!”)
But in spite of all this, Cain’s campaign seems invincible to even the most embarrassing and offensive mistake. He contradicts himself constantly, brags about his ignorance of foreign policy, and releases truly absurd campaign videos. The non-partisan fact-checking site Politifact shows him averaging about 25% truth in his rated statements. This didn’t stop him from becoming the front-runner in the GOP race; it might have even helped him.
As the Washington Post‘s Dana Milibank writes, each gaffe just makes Cain more of a supposed outsider: “Evidence that he has said something dumb, or offensive, only confirms to his supporters that he is not another polished pol like Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.”
Already, the conservative media is spinning this story as a victory for Cain. They accuse the left of launching a “hit piece” on the Republican front-runner, and even exploiting sexual stereotypes of black men.
Just one problem, guys: The accusations, whether or not they are true, actually exist. Politico provided Cain’s campaign with one of the women’s names, and then gave them days to respond. Even with all that, they fumbled.
Ambush? Nope. Unsubstantiated? Uh-uh. So why do people think this is a “hit job?” And more importantly, why doesn’t Herman Cain remember?