Thomas, Cain and the Politics of Harassment
Two decades after Anita Hill's testimony, sexual harassment allegations remain an accuser's burden.
For his part, Cain continues to deny ever doing anything improper with any woman. Ever. Despite a confirmed settlement awarded to an accuser by the National Restaurant Association, of which Cain used to be president, and more women stepping forward to complain about his behavior, Cain continues to deny that any of it ever happened. And in a game of "he said, she said," there's nothing but the word of his four accusers to suggest he's not telling the truth.
But what of his image? True or false, the allegations are telling in two ways: If true, Cain has a massive issue with abuse of power (as well as personal and professional boundaries); if all four women are incorrect, it shows that Cain prefers the ostrich strategy as opposed to confronting problems with honesty and conviction.
In this case, Cain's handling of the allegations is like the canary in the coal mine, sounding the alarm before things get serious. If Cain can't remember major investigations and court-mandated settlements, or grabbing a woman in his own vehicle, how can he manage to understand and process all the minutiae expected of a president? If his strategy is to feign ignorance of sticky or controversial matters, how will he handle the demands of the Oval Office?
Republican voters do not seem outwardly concerned about Cain's current woes -- 60 percent of them say the allegations do not impact their perception of him. Financial support for Cain is also up. According to USA Today, Cain has solidly raised money throughout the scandal -- within the last two weeks, an additional $2.25 million has flowed into his coffers.
With that kind of cash, Cain can afford to be dismissive.
Latoya Peterson is the editor of Racialicious.com and a contributing editor to The Root.