Will the last candidate standing please turn off the lights?
By John D. Turner
7 Dec 2011

After a fairly successful campaign, during which he rose to lead the pack in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Herman Cain bows out; a victim of accusation and innuendo. A trio of women have stepped forward and accused him of sexual discrimination while he was the head of the Restaurant association. Worse, another has come forth and accused him of carrying on a 13 year affair with her. Proof? Is any needed?

As with the Clarence Thomas hearings years ago, it isn’t important, it seems, whether or not the charges are true, what is important, apparently, is merely the “gravity” of the accusations. Now that he has suspended his campaign, will we hear any more from these ladies? Or will they simply vanish into the background, their duty done; one more Republican hopeful who might successfully challenge Barack Obama cast back into outer darkness where he belongs?

Details on the “sexual harassment” charges have been few and far between, and those that have surfaced have been so petty as to appear laughable. He said she was about the same height as his wife, and she felt “sexually harassed”? It is amazing to what lengths people can go to be offended these days.

As far as the affair goes, about the only “proof” I have seen thus far is a list of supposed phone calls between the two, some of which happened early in the morning and some of which happened late at night. That’s all she has to show for a 13 year affair? Where are the gifts to keep her quiet? Where are the hotel receipts? Where are the pictures? Where is the DNA evidence?

We don’t even have any transcripts of the phone calls. There are no audio tapes. Doesn’t everyone make audio tapes these days, just in case their paramour decides to run for President of the United States? Where are the Facebook posts, the Tweets, the text logs? After weeks of this stuff, why hasn’t the media dug up a ream of evidence linking the two? Is investigative journalism dead?

Remember Gary Hart? He pretty much dared the media to find anything on him. It didn’t take the media long to do so, and Mr. Hart was a political footnote in history. So, other than the claims made by the four women, what do the media have to offer as proof that Mr. Cain indeed has a history of blatant and aggressive sexual harassment? What proof have they dug up of this supposed 13 year affair? Nothing much that I have been able to see.

They say that “where there is smoke there is fire,” but so far all I have seen is smoke – and very little of that. In a post-Monica Lewinski age, one has to ask, if she has been having an affair with Mr. Cain for the past 13 years, where is the “blue dress”? Surely, she kept at least one semen-stained bed sheet.

Has anyone defined what is meant by the term “affair” in this context? Remember, in the post-Clinton era, every word must be defined. It all depends on what the meaning of the word “is”, is, after all.

Most of us, when we hear the term “affair”, assume that some sort of sexual liaison has occurred. It is dangerous in this day and age to assume anything. “Hope and change,” for example; what does/did that really mean? Maybe the reason we are not seeing any evidence of a sexual affair is because no sexual affair occurred. Perhaps what we have here is a friendship between two people that one of the two took as something more. There are reasons why men in authority positions are advised to never be alone behind closed doors with any woman; it is extremely hard to prove a negative. If she says something happened, it is impossible for you to prove that nothing did.

Then again, maybe they did have an affair, a sexual affair; who knows? All I know is that with a few well-placed accusations, a major candidate for president on the Republican side has been torpedoed and left sinking. Really? Is that all it takes these days? So who’s next?

If Nancy Pelosi has her way, the next target is Newt Gingrich. He is the current front runner following Cain’s demise, and Pelosi has already, gleefully, stated that she is ready to dish the dirt “when the time is right.”

“One of these days we’ll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich,” Pelosi told Talking Points Memo. “When the time is right. … I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff.”

So when will the “time be right?” After Gingrich secures the nomination, assuming he does? Is this what we have devolved into; one former Speaker of the House threatening another former Speaker of the House with “spilling the beans” if he doesn’t back down and slink quietly back into the night?

Ooooooooh. Newt is in soooooo much trouble!

But then again, let’s look at this a bit more closely. This was an official investigation, paid for by taxpayer dollars. Ms. Pelosi, who was serving on the ethics committee at the time, and three other individuals spent, by her account, a year doing practically nothing but this. The investigation, which took place in the late 1990’s, was for tax cheating and campaign finance violations. Eighty-four ethics charges were filed. Officially, the panel, made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, found that Gingrich had used tax-exempt contributions for political purposes and then mislead congressional investigators about it. The charges stemmed from a class he had taught from 1993 to 1995 that was linked to GOPAC, a Republican political action committee which he chaired from 1986 through 1995.

Gingrich was reprimanded by the House in 1997, and fined $300,000. Unpopular with his own party, he later resigned from the Speakership and from the House in 1998, following the midterm elections where the Republicans had the worst midterm performance in 64 years for a party that didn’t hold the presidency.

Ironically, Gingrich himself was one of 77 House members who, in 1988, brought ethics charges against then Speaker of the House Jim Wright (D-TX), regarding the use of a book deal to circumvent campaign-finance laws and House ethics rules. In 1989, Wright became the first Speaker of the House to resign because of a scandal. He also resigned his House seat as well. Gingrich filed the original charges. What goes around comes around, I guess.

But back to Ms. Pelosi; this case was closed 14 years ago. Newt was reprimanded, fined, and ultimately lost his Speakership and resigned his seat. A report of the committee’s findings was made; it is part of the public record. The IRS found no wrong-doing concerning the tax evasion charge. Should that not be the end of it?

According to Mr. Gingrich, over 1 million pages of material were turned over for the investigation. Presumably, the ethics panel, of which Ms. Pelosi was a part, sifted through those records in an attempt to substantiate the charges made. One of the 84 charges, only one was found substantial enough to act on. One has to ask of Ms. Pelosi; is it ethical for you to disclose information from the ethics investigation that you sat on that was not made part of the public record? And if there was information there that showed other violations of ethics on the part of Mr. Gingrich, why was this not made public at the time?

If there were matters turned up that did not have a bearing on the case at hand, and so were not reported, but which were none-the-less of potential embarrassment to Mr. Gingrich, is it ethical of you to bring those up? What does the House Code of Ethics say about information gathered in an investigation, which may not be germane to the issue at hand, and which is not made public? Is it ethical for you to disclose this information to which you were privy, simply because you dislike or oppose a person’s candidacy for president?

Is it ethical to threaten someone with revealing potentially embarrassing information which, presumably, you would not reveal if that person were not a potential rival for the presidency from another political party? If you feel it necessary to acquaint the American public with whatever it is you know, why have you not done so before now? Why didn’t you do so back when the committee of which you were a part, made its report? Other than Newt’s running for president, what is so “special” about now that now you deem it necessary to talk?

And what’s with that “when the time is right” comment? When will the “time be right”, Ms. Pelosi? Perhaps the last week in October, right before the election? What is your real game here Ms. Pelosi? To “enlighten” the American electorate about what a “bad man” Mr. Gingrich is? Or is it perhaps to get him to drop his campaign in the same way that Mr. Cain was forced to drop his? Is intimidation your game, Ms. Pelosi?

Out here in the private sector, in flyover territory, in the “great unwashed”, we call that sort of thing “blackmail.” There are laws against us “common folk” engaging in such behavior. Are you above the law, Ms. Pelosi?

Why face, on the field of battle, what you can interdict before it gets there? Who’s next on the hit list?