Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lies, Liaisons or Lynching?

The Herman Cain drama is a tough call.   I don't care about the politics so much because I don't believe Cain has a viable shot at a Presidential run.  For me, this is more an issue regarding principle...in our politicians and our media.  If these allegations are true, Cain should be condemned for those incidents as well as for staining the election process and should bear any and all consequences for his behavior.   On the other hand, in the world of politics, it is well known that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it.  If this turns out to be a witch hunt driven by political motives, there should be criminal consequences for those involved.

My biggest frustration as I watch the story unfold has been the one sided media presentation which presents the high profile, emotional accusations without providing context, pertinent details or scrutiny of the accusers. I became politically active during the good old Clinton days and recall the daily sexual harrassment sideshows involving Juanita Broaddrick, Paul Jones, Jennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky.   I vividly remember how the media routinely tore these women to shreds, defending Clinton at all costs and even when the guilt was undeniable, the media downplayed the importance of the issues.  Contrast that with the handling of the Herman Cain story and its hard to dent the sad state of media hypocrisy.  Despite the absence of a single shred of evidence, Cain is generally perceived as guilty, in great part due to the media fixation on hearsay and circumstance.

Now, given the growing number of allegations, it certainly is fair to QUESTION a potential presidential candidate, but innocence it should be ASSUMED until some actual evidence is presented.  Furthermore,  considering Herman Cain's otherwise spotless personal history and numerous testimonies to his character,  it is also reasonable to question the context, character and possible motives behind these allegations.

It is unusual that despite his decades of work experience, all the alleged incidents occurred during Cain's 3 year tenure with the National Restaurant Association.  This whole story began with revelations of a NRA settlement with unnamed women regarding sexual harassment charges involving Cain. There is no evidence that Cain was guilty of anything, the NRA has declined to release details regarding the settlement agreement and since it is common for large organizations to settle such harassment cases rather than assume the greater expense of a long, drawn out legal process, it's simply improper to make any assumptions.

The first woman to go public with her accusations was Sharon Bialek. Represented by Gloria Aldredge, their initial public statement struck many as questionable on a few points. For example, they claim that after allegedly sexually assaulting her in the car, Bialek asked him to drive her home instead of getting out of the car and calling a cab or friend. Another odd moment was Gloria Alred's "stimulus package" comment which would seem to be wildly inappropriate and insensitive considering the seriousness of the accusations.

So what about Sharon Bialek? In addition to being "let go" from the National Restaurant Association, Sharon Bialek has had two bankruptcies, an IRS tax lein, a child-support battle with the father of her 13-year-old son, multiple engagements without marriage and a checkered employment history since her job with the NRA.  As this story became a media sensation, reports began to circulate from ex-NRA employees who claim she was fired for making false sexual harassment allegations. Also interesting is the fact that Bialek for a time lived in same building as David Axelrod, a primary adviser to President Obama's who is notorious for Chicago style political tactics. Axelrod also happens to be close friends with Sheila O’Grady, who served as president of the Illinois Restaurant Association and likely had access to Cain’s personnel records. Since these revelations, the media coverage of Bialek's story has almost completely disappeared. All a coincidence?

Now we have Ginger White claiming a 13 year affair, offering her cell phone with Cain's personal number on it and multiple text messages as evidence. White also claims to have received numerous gifts, but admits she has not retained any gifts, any receipts or notes. Cain claims she was a friend for many years and he often gave her money and/or advice when she struggled financially, something he says he has done for many people. Regarding the texting, Cain claims to have received some 70 text messages and gave over ten responses which he claims are all related to her employment concerns.  Ginger White has been married 3 times, has received 5 eviction notices and has been sued for circulating false personal statements about a business partner in a mass email. Certainly fair to question her character and motives.  Cain's lawyers have requested phone and text records...let's see what happens.

Many have questioned why Herman cain doesn't sue these women if the allegations are false. The obvious concern is that the time and expense would be an additional burden to his family and campaign. However, I wonder if this whole scenario could be a precedent for federal legal action such as an FBI investigation. Although libel and slander are civil matters, in this case, one could make a case for national interests as the national election process procss is being effected. If the accusations are false, the only explanation for the timing of multiple false accusations would be political and or monetary motives. In such a case, criminal charges should be filed. I doubt this would happen, but I'd love to see such an investigation.

Stay tuned...

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