Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How Many Lines Has Herman Cain Crossed?

We announced Saturday that Herman Cain had crossed the Biden Line. Now the question is whether he crossed another line, and subjected two female employees who worked for him at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s to unlawful sexual harassment.

The exact details and how much substance there was to the reported complaints have not been established. Herman Cain says they were false and baseless complaints. But it is a fact that the two women complained and were paid money by the Association as part of their separation agreements.

Another fact. You can't serve as President let alone get elected without stuff like this getting out. Now at least one of the women involved says she would like to come forward, provided the confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement is waived.

My guess is that Herman Cain is not party to the confidentiality agreements, in which case it's not really his beef whether the accusers talk or not. If he was a party to the agreements, that raises some questions about the accuracy of his public statements.

It would also raise the question of whether Herman Cain has already broken confidentiality by describing the accusations as baseless and false. You can't be sued for slander for an opinion, but you also can't expect the two accusers from the 1990s to stand silent while they are effectively called liars. They may well both be liars, but they are entitled to their own good opinion of themselves, as is Herman Cain.

Besides, don't we all want to know what the two women claimed that Herman Cain did to sexually harass them? And whether these women are young or old, pretty or ugly, skinny or fat, white or black, liberal or conservative, sane or crazy? Of course we do, and we're not party to any confidentiality agreement.

Let's remember that no one besides Herman Cain has any affirmative obligation to tell us their side of the story. If the National Restaurant Association won't release the confidentiality clause, or the two women lack the fiber to risk breaking it, or they come forward and offer no comment, we may never know any more than we know now. But we can always wonder.

But wondering goes both ways. We can wonder what Herman Cain did. And we can wonder why someone who was supposedly harmed by him would not come forward with Herman Cain running for President.

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