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The Herman Cain Tragedy

The one man against whom the “race card” could not be played, and could possibly present a formidable challenge to Barack Obama is Herman Cain.  Now, charges of sexual improprieties have inundated his campaign, forcing him to re-evaluate his commitment to run for President. 

Cain denies all charges, and, as of this writing, nothing has been proven.  Yet, his bid for the presidency may be over.  Something about this whole mess seems sinister.  I am not condoning or dismissing any wrongdoing, but if unproven charges are now perceived as absolute facts, then a whole lot of people are going to be in trouble.  Or, maybe not.  It just depends. 

What’s the catch?  Your politics, of course.  Not Democrat or Republican—or even Independent politics.  No.  Liberal or Conservative politics.  Charges made against liberal politicians need to be verified, documented, fully substantiated with witnesses who have been vetted, and corroborated with photographs.  Then, with great reluctance and delayed until the last possible moment, the media begrudgingly relents and spills the beans.  Even then, it does whatever can be done to minimize the story.  Sympathizers come forward and the public is treated to all the reasons why the culprit should actually be seen as the victim.  Accusers (even after the charges are proven, they are still called accusers) are routinely vilified, said to be agenda-driven and subject to character assassination.  

Conservatives?  Are you kidding me?  First of all, conservatives are suspected of cramming skeletons in their closets before they ever declare themselves as candidates.  They must be guilty of something—even though we don’t know what—just because they have the impudence to be conservative.  Charges are not only accepted as truth on face value, the accusers are sought out and promised the moon for telling their story.  Reporters afford the accusers the highest level of credibility possible, and provide ample cover for them in case their testimonies have a few holes.  The media then peppers the candidates with questions about the alleged incident(s), in as embarrassing a manner as they know how, and demand immediate answers.  If satisfactory answers are not immediately forthcoming, they quickly fire up the second tier of questioning, which, of course, involve the charges of cover-up.  

The implications of these developments in media coverage are withering.  Anyone, for any reason, can launch any charge against any person with devastating effects on our political culture.  No one is exempt, and there is no control over chaotic, unregulated process.  I often hear the phrase “tried in the court of public opinion.”  This is exactly where the process doesn’t belong.  Public opinion is where the most egregious examples of injustice live.  Rules of fairness, rules of evidence, courtroom protocols—none of this applies in the public opinion courtroom.  It’s a wild free-for-all, and the biggest coalitions with the biggest guns, have all the advantages.  

Liberal politicians can trust the media for backup.  Only the stupidest among them may fall.  Conservative politicians have only themselves for backup.  Even the smartest may fall.  It’s a treacherous world, and, for candidates like the likable Herman Cain, survival may be impossible.

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