But Cain doesn't want to be taken seriously. He wants to talk but he doesn't want to listen. It's rare to see a person so uninterested in actual discourse. Even schmucks like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner pretend that they're answering the question when they're completely avoiding it. (Check out the "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation" archives for numerous examples of "message control".) Cain just takes complete umbrage that the press would want to talk about anything other than his talking points. And if he's questioned he starts talking like everyone else is 14 and they just can't get it through their thick little skulls that Cain has it. Everything that comes out of his mouth has that "What the hell is wrong with you idiots?" tone to it. (Cain: "The sky is green." Reporter: "Mr. Cain, with all due respect, the sky is not and never has been green." Cain: "What the hell is wrong with you idiots? Didn't you just hear me say the sky is green? No more questions.")
So when the sexual harassment allegations came up (and, like Dahlia Lithwick, I'm willing to consider them allegations until we know more) Cain reacted predictably. "I already told you nothing happened. What the hell is wrong with you idiots?" My favorite part was his campaign manager (you know, the smoking guy) saying that if the allegations have merit the accusers should be willing to face Cain publicly. Of course, they signed non-disclosure agreements, so legally they can't say anything. How convenient.
So today's news is fun. Yet another accuser, and this one is going public. I have no idea whether what this woman is saying is true (although, credibility grows the more instances of something occur, so...) but I found Cain's official statement to be utterly hilarious.
“Activist celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred is bringing forth more false accusations against the character of Republican front-runner Herman Cain,” the statement said. “All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false. Mr. Cain has never harassed anyone. Fortunately the American people will not allow Mr. Cain’s bold ’9-9-9 Plan’, clear foreign policy vision and plans for energy independence to be overshadowed by these bogus attacks.”
Where to begin... At the beginning, I reckon. Look at the first three words, referring to the accuser's legal counsel. Activist (bad). Celebrity (really bad). Lawyer (unbelievably bad, unless they're representing a corporation or corporate executive). So right off the bat we can't trust anything that comes out of this person's mouth. Even though Gloria Allred didn't make the statement. Guilt by association.
Next, the statement refers to "Republican front-runner Herman Cain". Ah yes, let's make sure that everyone knows he's the front-runner. This is important how? This is foreshadowing of the blatant campaigning to follow later in the statement. More on that in a bit.
Then we have a categorical statement. “All allegations of harassment against Mr. Cain are completely false." Wow. So not one of them has even a shred of truth in it? Look, when someone says they are 100% innocent, odds are they are at least 75% guilty. And this doesn't leave them any wiggle room when they are proved even 25% guilty. This is typical Cain though. The truth takes a backseat to the message.
Last comes my favorite part. Now that we know that these ladies are full of it, we can get on to the campaign. And let's start by using that broad brush again by invoking "The American people", whom we know are never ever wrong. Unless they support taxing rich people. They will "not allow" Cain's policy proposals, conveniently mentioned by name in this statement, "to be overshadowed by these bogus attacks."
So in responding to serious allegations of inappropriate behavior, Cain makes a campaign speech. Classy.
This may or may not be the straw that breaks this camel's back. I mean, really, if there are still this many people out there who think this is a serious candidate then we're well beyond screwed already. And folks like that are already disinclined to let a little thing like reality change their minds about anything.