The breaking news last night alleging that Herman Cain sexually harassed
female employees while heading the National Restaurant Association in
the 1990s, surely gave the Cain campaign quite a spook this Halloween.
Still, in this post-Watergate era, in which we freely rely on unnamed sources, we are left with very little information from which to gauge the accuracy of these claims. While I absolutely condemn sexual harassment — especially in the workplace — the details of this particular case remain unclear. “The sources,” according to the original article, “describe episodes that left the women upset and offended.” No one should be subject to inappropriate sexual conduct at work, but it’s really hard to make out if much — if anything — actually happened from these vague descriptions.
We must make sure we don’t allow this to turn into a “trial by media” in which Cain’s guilt or innocence is determined by the evening news. The fact is, too often high-profile accusations like these have little to do with sex and a whole lot to do with political power.
It’s hard to ignore the fact that Cain is a very attractive candidate to many GOP voters. What’s more, he’s African-American, and has the potential to significantly alter the 2012 election. In this regard he is a serious threat to the left’s idea of identity politics.
Sexual harassment cannot be tolerated; but neither can unfounded allegations. Let’s make sure this story can be fully corroborated and that this attack is not simply a desperate act by political opponents to try to derail Cain’s candidacy.
Sabrina L. Schaeffer is a senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum and managing partner of Evolving Strategies.