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Razing Cain?

Uploaded: Nov 30, 2011
The misbehaviors of politicians are the most predictable entertainments since the invention of comedy. Although the venal instincts of our would-be ruling class run a broad gamut, their hardy perennial is the sexual peccadillo. That may not be surprising in a field of endeavor that self-selects for ego-centrics, enamored of attention and control. No less an authority than the homely bon vivant Henry Kissinger once remarked that power is a potent aphrodisiac.

So we are blessed with a constant spectacle of crime-fighting pols caught with expensive hookers, intercontinental hikes along the Appalachian Trail, footsie in the airport men's room and stained blue dresses. One newly-appointed governor even got the jump on us by pre-announcing his (and his wife's) past infidelities, before anybody had thought to inquire on the subject.

More typically, though, indignant denials beget humble confessions, complete (until recently, at least) with wrong-ed spouse – followed, after a decent interval, by redemption on cable news programs. Which is what makes this week's plot twist interesting: the unconventional campaign of unconventional candidate Herman Cain has unconventionally followed last week's indignant denials with a new twist -- the Consenting Adults defense. Through an aide, he has floated the intriguing notion that it's simply none of our collective business.

Whatever else that line of attack represents (a tacit admission, for instance), it does beg the question: apart from its salacious entertainment value, are there legitimate, public policy bases to care about this candidate's nocturnal meanderings?

It seems to me that there are at least three reasons why this might be the public's business – perhaps readers can supply more.

First, for the long-married Mr. Cain, there is the question of character and commitments. Past is prologue, and an individual (okay, a man, as this seems to be a chiefly male-dominated sport) who ignores the most fundamental vow of his adulthood is not likely to be steadfast in his political promises. In the extended seduction of campaign season, voters want to surrender themselves to someone who will stick around past breakfast.

Second, and somewhat contextually, is the issue of hypocrisy. A candidate who touts his family values and the tenure of his marriage, prominently sings in the choir and espouses taking personal responsibility for one's outcomes ought not to be exposed, in flagrante delicto, in a decade-long affair with another woman. As indicated, this factor will somewhat depend on the political positions previously assumed, but nobody runs on the Adulterers' ticket.

Finally, bad behaviors can leave a person vulnerable to blackmail. The Nevada Senator in the Godfather movies was a willing stooge after he'd been drugged and photographed with a murdered prostitute. Although many of the platform planks of Mr. Cain's Grand Old Party might better be explained by extortion than sound public spirit, I would prefer my President to be unsusceptible to such pressure.

So I am guessing that the Consenting Adults defense will have a short and undistinguished career. Like the ridiculous campaign video image of his campaign manager puffing away on a cigarette, it is an ill-considered move. We may have seen the last of it, with good reason and riddance. Some conventions are worth keeping.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Westerner, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 30, 2011 at 12:32 pm

You conveniently left out the credibility of Cain's accuser. Web Link

Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm

I believe your concluding noun should be plural. And this is from the article you linked:

"Ms. White spoke slowly and in a monotone in response to Mr. Stephanopoulos's questions. She seemed calm, if somewhat reserved. But more than her demeanor, itâ??s her phone records that appear to be the most important evidence of an affair that she has produced so far.

And on Wednesday morning she produced more records. She gave ABC phone bills showing contact with Cainâ??s private cellphone number into the fall â?? all the way up to mid-November.

â??November 8, 13, 14 â?? heâ??s texting you all month long,â? said Stephanopoulos. He sounded astonished.

â??Thatâ??s correct. Our communication was up until just last week,â? said White.

Wow. If this is true, Cain was in contact with a mistress during the very period when he was beset by revelations that he had been hit with sexual harassment complaints in the past. Was he trying to get White to stay quiet?

â??No,â? said White. â??Never in a million years did he think I would speak out.â?"

It seems to me that with every new revelation, and accuser, the probability that EVerybody is doing him wrong diminishes significantly. I guess we'll see, soon enough.

Posted by Voter, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 30, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Although many politicians have been caught having extra-maritial affairs, I believe the only politician who had an affair AND committed perjury under oath when denying the affair, was Bill Clinton. Having no respect for marriage vows AND having no respect for the rule of law and lying under oath about it, showed his absolute lack of character. Those who try to glorify Bill Clinton's presidency have a very short memory of his disgraceful conduct in committing adultery, AND perjury when lying about it under oath.

Posted by [removed], a resident of another community,
on Nov 30, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Dear Tom and Editor,

Your column above sparked a unique discussion among news service researchers concerning the public's right to know versus what makes good copy. It seems most researchers did not see a relationship between personal and public lives of politicians being any more important than the personal lives of major executives. Since such extra-marital activities do not impact review of executive job performance, researchers believe such activities have no need for public exposure unless they occurred during the execution of the individual's job. After all the coverage and public entertainment, such activities are only the concern of families of the participants and their lawyers.

What is understood by news researchers is such stories sell newspapers, websites and broadcasts, but it remains a concern, "Is it journalism?"

**News service conference board courtesy**

Posted by Olden Golden Days, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 30, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I believe 100 yrs ags a President's mistress birthed a baby during his campaign. Pres John F Kennedy had steady stream of serial affairs long and short, in the White House. FDR had a permanent
affair in the White House, with the UNacknowledged knowledge of wife and first lady, Eleanor.
Now in addition to Cain, we have twice divorced Newt, who now goes overboard with his newly found catholism. The most electable and truly, purely CLEAN from acandals and affairs, is Mitt Romney....but apparently, hypocritical, very UNchristianlike religious biggots don't really want a competent, clean, once married, non-lobbyist, Washington outsider, and electable nominee... who can also beat Obama.

Posted by Dave Ender, a resident of another community,
on Nov 30, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Yup, excellent Tom, all of that and also perhaps the Erasing of Cain. His defense strategy is specious as you point out. Herman makes his personal business public when he campaigns for public office as a public servant. A concept that seems to be lost on most of this GOP field. Then one other addition to your three strike call. His wilfulness in defending what is unethical makes him prone to associate with those who are unethical, i.e., to make bad choices in his associations. That's a fatal flaw for anyone in public office.

Posted by jrm, a resident of Vista Grande Elementary School,
on Dec 2, 2011 at 9:12 am

Ain't Misbehavin'....

Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 5, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Didn?t Thomas Jefferson fool around? Seems like he was a fairly decent statesman. Benjamin Franklin too.

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