Herman Cain, Bill Clinton, and the Myth of He Said/She Said


Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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196 Responses

  1. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    I like this one a lot, TKell. I do give Hermanator at least a 10% chance of being unjustly accused: Do “we” buy Kathleen Willey’s allegation that as a sitting POTUS, Bill Clinton crudely sexually assaulted her?  Or Juanita Broaddrick’s similar charge, before he was POTUS, and beat her up and all?

    Scurrilous charges happen, and not infrequently.

    L’affair Lewinsky: well, at first I saw him as a predator, on a younger vulnerable gal—which he may have been with Paula Jones: he reached a “settlement” with her too, afterall, $850K.  Let’s keep that in mind, too.

    My thought at the time was legally, that he shouldn’t have tried to brazen it out like he did. Say you’re too busy as POTUS and let her get a default judgement, no testimony, no public circus.  If I’d been his lawyer or political advisor, he’d never have submitted to his fatal disposition that opened the door to the Lewinsky thing.

    So, my original impression was that BC preyed on somebody’s daughter, and that is wrongwrongwrong.

    But as I read up on the details, from her own mouth, she stalked him.  He, a lonely man in a lonely job [let’s leave his relationship w/Hillary out of it], finally gave in.

    I do object to the revisionism that the GOP persecuted him for the sex—he did lie in the deposition.  But sure, they smelled blood in the water, but overplayed their hand.  As a piece of irony, the “House managers” who led the impeachment charge all were promptly turned out of office themselves.  As was Newt Gingrich shortly thereafter, he with no clean sheets either.

    TVD’s historical take, to the best of his memory.  I don’t like the revisionist “Clinton was impeached for a blowjob” as the whole story.  It’s not.  He lied baldfacedly to the American people with his semantic/sophistic denial of L’affair Lewinsky.  [In his own rationalizing mind, a BJ didn’t qualify as “…sexual relations with that womanMiss Lewinsky.”

    Me, it was that I found Bill Clinton corrupt not for banging Gennifer Flowers—which he also denied, and the press let pass leading up to the 1992 election—but corrupt for getting her an Arkansas state job although her only qualification was, as Clinton himself was reputed to have put it, she could suck a golf ball through a garden hose.

    And I think, Mr. Kelly, I’m finally getting around and back to your point as an authority on sexual harassment—getting ahead by banging or servicing the boss creates a “hostile working environment” for women, if I understand the legal dynamic correctly, because it’s unfair to those who don’t or won’t, or aren’t even asked to.

    I see that as valid.  If you think of every woman in the workplace as a daughter, mother, or wife, it rather seems self-evident.


    Exc post, brother.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      Quid pro quo sexual harassment — the boss offering a reward for a sexual favor, or threatening a punishment if favors are withheld — is contrary to law because (among other things) it’s akin to rape, it’s unfair to those who won’t play (or can’t, i.e., men), and it’s motivated by the sex of the victim.

      Hostile environment sexual harassment is different than quid pro quo. That’s the arena in which we’re talking about severe and pervasive sexualization in the workplace, nudie posters and sexual jokes and such. Contrary to popular myth, a few jokes here and there isn’t going to create such an environment (at least, not in the legal sense); the standard is both that the individual complaining found it changed the terms and conditions of the workplace from what would be reasonably expected, and that a reasonable person of the same sex would have found that the terms and conditions were altered. A technical way of saying “It’s got to be pretty bad.” The principal reason it’s contrary to law is that it has the effect, and in many cases the purpose, of driving its victims out of the workplace and thus denying them equal employment opportunities.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    And we can go back a bit further, to 1991, to show the GOP doing its best to brand a sexual harasser as a victim and the actual victim as a vindictive, lying, delusional bitch.Report

  3. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

    I hate to have to quibble with it– and I honestly was going to post the “thank you” regardless!– but I don’t know if it is fair to say that Democrats “actually joined in the brigade of publically painting a young female victim as a slut was even more shameful.” Now, this could be just my faulty memory– I was a teen at the time, it’s not like I memorized every last bit about it. But I don’t remember the Democrats falling in line and saying that everything Clinton did was awesome and the intern involved was a bad person. In fact, IIRC, there was a majority in Congress who wanted to censure the president, but instead it went down the more partisan path of impeachment.

    None of which diminishes your larger point, of course, about the persistence of harassment & partisans’ malleable rhetoric on the issue.Report

    • Thanks, RP.  For the link as well.

      I think our memories just differ; perhaps where we were at the time plays into it.  Here in Portland, I remember CLinton being painted as the victim by the left, and Lewinsky and Tripp being a tramp and a political hit gal respectively.Report

      • Avatar Jeff in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        I remember CLinton being painted as the victim by the left, and Lewinsky and Tripp being a tramp and a political hit gal respectively.

        I don’t think Clinton was the “victim”, at least not of Lewinsky. He was the victim of the GOP (to the point where a serious attempt to kill bin Laden was portrayed as “wag the dog” by those who should have known better.

        I also don’t recall hearing Lewinski referred to as a rtrump or slut or similar.  Tripp was portrayed as a political hit gal because that’s exactly what she was.

        Most of the Left-ers I knew wanted to at least censure Clinton, but the GOP went overboard (as usual).Report

      • I remember CLinton being painted as the victim by the left, and Lewinsky and Tripp being a tramp and a political hit gal respectively

        Ok, fair enough. Our recollections are our recollections. I don’t really remember that, but there’s plenty of stuff that happened in 1998 that I don’t remember.

        I’d want to add the point– which is kinda far afield– that there’s a greater division, I think, between “The Left” and Democrats than there is between “The Right” and Republicans.

        On the right, you have people saying that the president wasn’t born here, that surplus-era tax rates on marginal income over $250,000 is socialism, that health insurance policy is tyranny– and you get the same from most elected Republicans. The left was very much not into the invasion of Iraq, but something like 40% (making it up off top of my head) of Dems in Congress voted for it.

        So “things we hear in conversations” from the left are, I think it’s fair to say, less likely to be what Democrats in power are saying and doing than on the Right. And at the end of the day, we care about the government because it implements policies that affect people’s lives.

        (Pleased to be corrected on this; I think that immigration policy may be a matter where my theory is just plain not true for The Right vs. the GOP).Report

        • “I’d want to add the point– which is kinda far afield– that there’s a greater division, I think, between “The Left” and Democrats than there is between “The Right” and Republicans”

          That’s so funny.  I just finished reading Erik saying the same thing coming from a different direction at the end of his Social Forces and Vulgar Libertarianism piece.  I agree with this observation.

          Myself, I think much of it has to do with the Right having such success with a RIght-driven media, especially FOX and talk radio.  I think the Left’s inability to make something similar insulates the Dems from the Left in a way the GOP can’t be any longer.Report

  4. Avatar Koz says:

    I don’t know what I think about the latest business about Herman Cain. I do know that I don’t like him for the Presidency though by all accounts he did a great job at Godfather’s. In fact, I have a substantial frustration with the GOP Presidential field in that it tends to attract too many candidacies like this one. One here or there isn’t so bad, but the GOP has attracted way too many. Herman Cain needs some kind of elected office on his resume to be a legit candidate in my book.

    That said, I don’t buy the driveby on the GOP’s handling of the Clinton scandals. The common thread of most of the Clinton scandals is his use of the machinery of government to serve his own personal or political ends. The only thing you can say in his defense is that it didn’t shade his policies too much, but of course no could know that at the time.

    But for the GOP, as much as they wanted to take Clinton down, they also were in a position where they sweep Clinton’s crap under the rug. Precisely because Clinton was using the mechanisms of government, and because his actions had real victims and those victims insisted on a hearing, for the GOP to ignore them was to be complicit in Clinton’s corruptions.

    Bill Clinton continued to escalate his claims of innocence, and the Demos who intended to remain in mainstream politics continued to defend him, in situations where it was clear that both parties were lying. The Clinton scandals couldn’t be put behind us until Clinton left office because that’s how Clinton played it.Report

  5. Avatar wardsmith says:

    I’m going to admit to being a bit confused by this article in Politico. They certainly make it /seem/ there are two women, but the full text seems to indicate only one woman who worked in the government affairs (sic) group. Perhaps you have another source (that doesn’t just point back to Politico)?

    As for he said/ she said many years ago at a software firm, I was standing in my cubicle with several friends and was showing them an OLD joke where you do different handshakes. You grab someone’s hand, then their elbow, pull up their arm and say, “Hi I’m from the National Rifle Association” while making it look like their arm is a rifle. Stupid stuff I agree. A woman who was a contractor (and /all/ the contractors were about to be laid off, the news had already been announced that day) came up and asked me to show her one. I did the American Heart Association handshake, where you palpate the hand. She screamed and immediately found a manager to accuse me of sexual harassment. Naturally it was BS, naturally I had several witnesses that backed me up but the end result was she was kept on for 6 months past when all the other contractors were let go. And I had a sexual harassment claim against me in my employee file. She even came up to me one day weeks later and apologized and said it was just to keep her job and she hoped I didn’t mind. I told her to go to hell and I meant it.

    Not all women are Florence Nightingales. Just sayin’Report

  6. Avatar Sebastian H says:

    ” Do “we” buy Kathleen Willey’s allegation that as a sitting POTUS, Bill Clinton crudely sexually assaulted her?  Or Juanita Broaddrick’s similar charge, before he was POTUS, and beat her up and all”

    Sheesh, you’re illustrating the “that’s my guy” problem.  He definitely abused his power in at least two cases that you admit.  Why then do you find it so hard to believe that Willey and Broaddrick are also telling the truth?  Their stories are well in line with the stories that you admit are true.Report

  7. Avatar Kolohe says:

    “You can get your ass sued off, however, over the question of what you did or didn’t do to protect your harassed employee when you were made aware of the situation, and what you did beforehand to make people aware of their rights and responsibilities”

    What you often find though is an exercise in bureaucratic keister covering rather than actual value-added culture-changing training*.  Particular as the generation coming into management now has been seeing this training their entire working lives (and have spent their *entire* lives in a post-Title IX environment).

    *notwithstanding your current job; indeed the last round of mandated EEO training I went to, they hired a professional to facilitate the class and she was quite good.


    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kolohe says:

      That there are bureaucratic issues now is certainly true. (Think of how you’ve had to sign off that you understood your company’s Anti-Harassment Policy when you started.)

      But given the choice between having to do that and going back to that Fortune 50 Company culture, it’s kind of a no-brainer for me.Report

  8. Avatar Scott says:


    Funny how you can say that Cain is full of it when we know so little about the case. As for Slick Willie, he perjured himself which most Dems conveniently overlook.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Scott says:

      I don’t see Tod letting Clinton off the hook for the perjury. I see him saying that the basic issue was ruthless abuse of power for the basest of motives.

      Nor do I see Tod claiming to know Cain is a liar, so much as he’s saying that the multiplicity of accusations hints at a propensity similar to Clinton’s to ruthlessly abuse power.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Scott says:

      Scott, you are the only person who would have read that post and come away with the conclusion I am sticking it to the Republicans because they are Republicans and defending the Dems because they’re Dems.  Good grief.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Tod Kelly says:


        How can you justify concluding Cain is full of it when we know so little about what actually happened?Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Scott says:

          Go back and read the post.  Agree, disagree, but I was pretty specific.Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to Tod Kelly says:


            All you really say is that I have all this experience and based off that alone Cain is full of it. Personally, I like to know something about that facts in the case at hand.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Scott says:

              Scott, that’s not even close to what I said.  And no, you don’t.  If this were the exact same situation with a Democratic candidate you would be nailing the guy to the cross and accusing everyone who wasn’t of being out to destroy the country.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Scott, Mr. Kelly’s objection is sustained by this disinterested observer. He really didn’t go red-blue, as was yr charge several comments above.  His opinion is that where there’s smoke there’s fire in these harassment things—and though I agree with you that there is no substantive evidence of anything in this fishing circus—the likelihood that the accusations against Herman Cain a decade ago were only mere fabrication remains low.

                [I reckon he did or said inappropriate things, but that mature and adult and competent American women deflect and correct such things without the fuss of lawsuits.  And that’s that.]

                Tod Kelly plays it straight up, Scott—whoever you are—and signs his full name to what he writes; his opinion on the issue here is an informed one, and he put it forth only as an opinion or an educated guess.  Regardless of anyone’s partisan POV in general, first & foremost I’ll get the back of any honest man, and Tod Kelly has proven himself to be one here @ the LOOG.

                He’s the least of yr problems.  ;-}


              • Dude.  I’m seriously touched by that.  Thanks.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Tod Kelly says:


                So tell us then, upon which facts from this case are you basing your assessment that Cain is full of it?  As for what you think I would do, keep on guessing, it is sad but fun to watch.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Scott says:

                Again, go back and read the post.  As far as my “guessing” what you would do, perhaps I am wrong.  Tell you what, go back and pick out a comment you’ve made where you criticized a right wing candidate or defended a left wing one and link it into the thread.  Or even make a new one right here.  I would certainly retract my comment.Report

  9. Avatar Roger says:

    Nice job, Tod

    Democrats and Republicans — two denominations of the same perverse religion of power and exploitation.Report

  10. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    As much as I hate going against the usual mugwumpery here, I do think the Democrats came off worse in the Bill Clinton scandal. The Republicans might really have been playing at being concerned and just wanted Clinton out of power, but that wasn’t exactly a revelation. For years, the Democrats had claimed to care very deeply about ending sexual harassment and making sure that the voices of accusers are heard and taken seriously. The revelation that holding onto power was a value more important to them than taking claims of sexual harassment seriously was a bit of an eye-opener, at least. It touched on one of their deeply held values and revealed it wasn’t so deeply held.

    As for Cain, I’ve actually eaten Godfathers pizza and, having done so, don’t want that man’s finger anywhere near the nuke button.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Rufus F. says:

      As much as I hate going against the usual mugwumpery here, I do think the Democrats came off worse in the Bill Clinton scandal.

      +1, and not just because I think mugwumpery is an awesome word.

      THe folks that call out horrible behavior always come out looking worse in the end that those that defend it, even if no one in very sincere about their convictions.  Which is why the Right will come out of this thing with Cain looking worse than the Left.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        THe folks that call out horrible behavior always come out looking worse in the end that those that defend it, even if no one in very sincere about their convictions.

        Other way around?Report

        • Oh crap.  Yes.  Thanks, Mike.Report

          • Avatar Koz in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            I don’t think Lewinsky is a sexual scandal at all, it has to do more with deceit, or at least the angle presented for public viewing was.

            Clinton was accused of a bunch of things investigated by Kenneth Starr and basically guilty of all of them. The thing that differentiated the Lewinsky scandal from the rest of them is that Lewinsky kept the blue dress, Starr got it and tested it for DNA. At that point, there was no possible room for deniability and Clinton had to come clean in some way. If there had been no blue dress, Clinton would have kept on lying and the Demos would have continued function as his accessory till the end of time.Report

    • Avatar kenB in reply to Rufus F. says:

      holding onto power was a value more important to them than taking claims of sexual harassment seriously

      Well, if that power is being used to further the goals of women’s rights and equality of opportunity, and if taking sexual harassment claims seriously involves the possibility of significantly less support going to furthering those goals, then there’s at least a colorable argument that muting the criticism is the better approach in the long run.Report

  11. Excellent analysis, Tod. Thank you very much.

    As for those claiming Clinton perjured himself, I have to argue that’s not clear at all.  He claimed that he did “not have sex” with Lewinsky.  A poll of the American public around that time found a clear majority (in the 60%+ range, iirc) did not think a blowjob counted as sex.

    Now I think a blowjob does count as sex, but all that means is that I am in the minority (along with, I assume, Scott and Tom, and perhaps Koz).  Because if a majority of the public disagrees with us about what constitutes sex, then we can’t say the definition of a blowjob as sex is anywhere near standard enough to count as proof that Clinton lied about having “sex” with Lewinsky.Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to James Hanley says:

      If a blow job doesnt count as sex then I can’t see how oral sex exists as a concept. Luckily it doesn’t matter what 60% of Americans think. Slick was trying to be clever a la Bronston v US and it didn’t work. Sadly Dems decided to ignored what he did.Report

    • “As for those claiming Clinton perjured himself, I have to argue that’s not clear at all.”

      At the very least, though, even you would have to admit that he very purposefully and deliberately chose to attempt in bad faith to mislead a court of law while under oath, right?

      I think finding ways to argue that it wasn’t perjury detracts from what I see as the central point.Report

      • Maybe.

        Some of my view may be colored by the fact that I think anyone being asked under oath to reveal things about their private life that have no actual bearing on a legal investigation has an innate right to lie until their pants literally catch fire.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        Personally, I think anyone questioning a lawyer on the stand better be prepared for clever word games, half-truths, and all the other bits and pieces in the toolkit of deception.

        Doubly so for a politician.

        Having the whole line of questioning later thrown out didn’t help the whole perjury case (it’s really hard to get a lot of people to get upset about ”He lied about something the judge said later didn’t matter and so removed from the record’), but failure to basically pin Clinton in the stand as to his definitions and meanings was simply poor performance.

        They didn’t call him Slick Willie for nothing.  I remember thinking at the time, and I wasn’t even old enough to vote yet, that some of those questions had loopholes big enough to drive a truck through.

        Then again, I was a teenager, and finding ways to answer questions truthfully (or mostly truthfully) that gave totally the wrong impression to my parents was kind of pertinent.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Morat20 says:

          Then again, I was a teenager, and finding ways to answer questions truthfully (or mostly truthfully) that gave totally the wrong impression to my parents was kind of pertinent.

          Everybody is something of a sociopath when they’re in their teens.Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to James Hanley says:

      “He claimed that he did “not have sex” with Lewinsky.”

      This is going into the wayback machine but IIRC he stepped in it way deeper than that. More substantively, I don’t think there’s any right to lie till your pants are on fire.

      But what really gets me about Clinton isn’t really about Clinton at all. There is certainly no justification for Demo elected and appointed pols to lie to us.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Koz says:

        There is certainly no justification for Demo elected and appointed pols to lie to us.

        If we’re asking about their private sexual life, yeah, there is.  I really don’t give a crap if my governor tells me he’s hiking the Appalachian trail.  That’s between him, his wife, and his “walking stick.”

        If they’d actually been asking Clinton about SH, that’d be different, but that wasn’t the subject at the time (even though it probably should have been).Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Koz says:

        Yes.  Clinton trotting out members of the admin to front for his deceptions made it a public act.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          I would say that Clinton’s handling of his various misdeeds shows that he has impulse control problems in excess of Mr. Weiner’s.

          On the other hand, this particular class of impulse control problem is somewhat unique.  I don’t know that being unable to keep it in your pants is indicative of an inability to guide policy (even feminist policy) or keep your finger off the button or whatever.

          Still, there comes a time when one ought to pack it in and resign over this, just like anything else.  It’s classless.  For crying out loud, a country ought to be able to have their head of state meet another head of state without the gallery snickering.  I’m not hugely into propriety for the sake of propriety and I’m hardly a prude, but you gotta draw lines *somewhere*.Report

          • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

            Patrick, don’t you think the guy ought to have his day in court? Or is the court of public opinion sufficient for you? I’d certainly hate to see anyone accuse YOU falsely of something, what with the immediate unemployment and so on.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

              I’m not running for office, Ward.

              Like it or not, the practical reality is that when you’re running for office, you are going to be tried in the court of public opinion.  Until you get rid of all these idiot voters who cast their vote on just this sort of thing, political maneuvering is going to include dragging this crud out to see the light of day.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith says:

              He could’ve had his day in court. He decided to pay them off instead.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

              “Patrick, don’t you think the guy ought to have his day in court? Or is the court of public opinion sufficient for you?”

              Wardsmith, Cain has actually had at least two days in court.  His insurance company’s lawyers gave up a year’s salary each time, plus legal expenses which probably surpassed each, something that they do not do if they don’t feel sure they are going to lose if it gets to court.

              Also, at least one of the plaintiffs is publicly asking to have all court documents released.  (At this time she is not allowed to, since part of the settlement agreement was that she never disclose information publicly about her complaint or the case.)  It is Cain’s camp that is refusing to release the documentation.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                “It is Cain’s camp that is refusing to release the documentation.”

                I will stand firmly by his right to do so.  If she signed an NDA, she waived her future ability to demand recompense.

                On the other hand, this is probably not going to help him in the court of public opinion.  But that’s his call to make.Report

              • Of course he has a right not to release those documents.  I’m not arguing, a la Sullivan, that he must release them.

                I’m just not buying ward’s argument that he is forced to sit there and not be heard; that his ability to let the public not know the facts is out of his control.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                …something that they do not do if they don’t feel sure they are going to lose if it gets to court.

                I’d have said:

                …something that they do not do if they are not confident they are going to win.

                Different and, alas, more ambiguous.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Yeah, and also you’re a better writer than I am.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Tod I don’t buy that. My company “paid the woman off” by allowing her to stay on as a contractor for 6 month’s wages. She showed up, but the project was over and she had no real work to do. I’ve also been in a car wreck. It was 100% the other person’s fault, a police officer came and gave the driver a citation, said it was her fault and offered to testify on my behalf. My insurance company paid her off refusing to take it one step further. I demanded they not, at which point I was told they would wash their hands of it, and any and all expenses from that point forward would be on me. The rep asked me, “just how important is being right to you”? They didn’t raise my rates, a person who I later learned was a professional accident defrauder received yet another paycheck from a wimpy and compliant insurance company and I didn’t gut out righting a wrong, because there was zero upside unfortunately.

                All that said, I don’t have enough actual evidence before me to make a judgement in this case. At best, releasing the records would give /her/ side of the story (the accusation) but not his. Should it have gone to court (admittedly a crapshoot with our crappy judicial system – present company excepted) who knows what might have turned up? That’s what court is /supposed/ to be for, to get to the truth of things. Court of public opinion? Not so much.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to wardsmith says:

                That is the dynamic in the legal biz.  You could spend 5 figures in legal bills plus pull the exec and defense witnesses out of work for depositions, etc.  Or just pay the 5 figures and make the whole thing go away.

                No different than car crashes or many other civil matters.  You add up the possible litigation, etc. costs and do a cost/benefit, and the numbers make the decision.


              • This is not my experience with hostile work environment cases.  If it was really as easy as “just make a claim and get a year’s salary,” everyone would do it.

                In my experience, (as I said in the OP), either your company took all of the steps they are required to take by law, or they didn’t.  The He Said/She Said is not relevant.

                If your company did what it was supposed to do, both in terms of having the correct policies and handling the complaint in the proper way, your carrier won’t cave.  If you didn’t, they probably will.  That’s why you should only have to pay out a year’s salary once if at all; because it’s not that hard to protect the organization once you find out how (the hard way).Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Tod, the Cain thing was over a decade ago, before the Clinton mess sent corporate America headlong into PC/SH prophylaxis, which is now an industry of its own.

                A company just hiring you guys to give out seminars and pass out handbooks “proves” their institutional zero-tolerance policy for such things, and decreases their legal exposure. It’s all in the game.

                Back to the Cain case, just as I said about Clinton, there was no percentage in litigating it: the money was a trifle, the fallout and disruption of a trial simply not worth either the “vindication” or the chance it might go the other way.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Tod, the company I worked for wanted to sweep it under the rug. I received an official slap on the wrist (literally my manager slapped my wrist lightly) for an “inappropriate joke”. This was decades ago, sexual harassment suits were just starting and case law had not been firmly established (presuming it even is today). I suspect ala your OP that my own company had their own skeletons higher up the corporate ladder and didn’t want to allow for any boat-rocking. In fact I’m certain of it.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Well, Tom, that’s got some merit to it, but on the other hand “I smoked pot in college and had a wild sex romp when I was dressed as in blackface and an SS and somebody took pictures” might be something from 20 years ago too, but it’s probably going to kill your chances to get elected today, regardless.

                Sometimes your past comes up to bite you in the ass, even when you aren’t the same person now that you were then.

                Whether you did something or not, it’s in your closet.  If you don’t want your closet coming back to haunt you when you run for office, either (a) don’t run for office, (b) spend your life acting like you might run for office, or (c) haul that skeleton out and beat the stuffing out of it the first time you run for office so that it never becomes a story.

                There ain’t no (d).  Well, except, (d) Run for office, get far enough along that it is to someone’s political advantage to dig that dirt up on you, and act like a doofus when you’re presented with it on camera.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                PatC, I was just surveying the legal dynamics.  I wrote elsewhere that if the GOP somehow nominates the unqualified Mr. Cain, I’ll have to do the unthinkable and vote BHO.

                As for the hubbub, I’m not following it that closely, as I have only marginal interest.  But it seems to me Politico is putting a lot of half-sourced shit out there, and that ain’t right.

                Cain is probably guilty of *something*, but it could be as simple as inappropriate remarks or making passes at the lasses. I have faith in our women that they candle such minor stuff–as they have for 1000s of years–without making a federal case out of every occurrence.

                And if anybody’s still carrying water for Bill Clinton here, they’re incapable of even-handed assessment:  BC did get Gennifer Flowers a state job, and did trot out cabinet members to front for him.  That crossed the line between the personal and professional, and is likely worse than what Cain’s accused of doing.

                If we can ever figure out what the hell Cain’s actually supposed to have done, Pat, because I got no fishing clue, how ’bout you?


              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I’m not honestly sure that I care, Tom.  This isn’t going to be a point of differentiation for me, I’m not going to vote for the guy if he’s the candidate.

                Whatever he did, if he did anything, the plaintiffs got their settlement and it may not have been justice, but it’s probably as close as they were going to get if it wasn’t.  If nothing comes to light showing that he’s done this in the last few years, he either grew up or his wife beat it out of him, and in either case it probably doesn’t reflect much on his ability to do the job.

                Well, except for the fact that he didn’t manage the release of this info.  That tells me he’s not really up to managing his political presence at the Presidential level, but then that’s true of a lot of the people that are running for the office in recent history.

                As for Politico making hay out of it, I expect it the same way I expect anybody to make hay out of this sort of thing.  It’s depressing that it happens, but the slings and arrows of muckraking are part of the joyous dignity that is the American political process.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Pat, a serious question: How would you differentiate between Cain and Clinton? Did/would you vote for the latter?

                I personally look at something like this as a black mark, but I can’t reasonably say that it’s the only thing I am going to look at. I voted for Clinton, and though I have mixed thoughts about having done so, I think they have as much to do with Bob Dole as Clinton himself.

                I am pretty unlikely to vote for Cain, in part for the same reasons that TVD is. It’s not difficult to imagine scenarios that would change my mind, though, even though I don’t see it happening.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I voted for Clinton on his second go.  I was eligible during his first campaign but I didn’t vote.

                Who I voted for back then is a poor indicator of now, though, for whatever that’s worth.

                I don’t think that sexual misconduct cases automatically DQ you from office.  I wish that our political process could produce candidates frequently of such a caliber that I could add this as a differentiator, however.

                Unfortunately, I usually feel like I’m picking between trash and garbage.Report

              • @ Tom:

                That is the dynamic in the legal biz.  You could spend 5 figures in legal bills plus pull the exec and defense witnesses out of work for depositions, etc.  Or just pay the 5 figures and make the whole thing go away.

                No different than car crashes or many other civil matters.  You add up the possible litigation, etc. costs and do a cost/benefit, and the numbers make the decision.


                Yes and no.  It depends on the case, and in discrimination/HWE claims specifically, there’s a lot more to it than this.  Before suit is filed, there are indirect incentives that might well lead a company to be willing to settle for more than they’d expect to pay in legal costs, etc. on average. Specifically, the very act of being sued for such claims is bad PR, so there’s a good reason to settle quickly.

                However, once suit is filed, that PR dynamic reverses, and it becomes in the company’s PR interest to fight the claim as much as possible until it becomes clear that they will likely lose.  Of course, the PR interest is not necessarily controlling – if a suit can be settled quickly on the cheap, then it may well override any PR damage of the settlement.

                Another huge factor that you’re overlooking here that will always play into a defendant’s calculations is likelihood of success at trial, and the potential amount of damages if the Plaintiff wins (not necessarily the amount of damages alleged in the complaint).

                Last but not least is that businesses really don’t like to set precedents that will encourage more suits to be filed in the future, or – in other contexts – are quite willing to pursue claims of their own to the bitter end just to discourage certain behavior in the future.  Do not underestimate the role of precedent in corporate legal decisionmaking.

                IOW, once suit is actually filed, the incentives quickly start to weigh against settling unless there’s a real concern that the suit has some merit or the suit can get settled super cheaply.

                By contrast, the incentives on the Plaintiff’s side once suit is seriously contemplated in a Title VII case quickly  start to weigh in favor of settling quickly no matter how meritorious the claim.   Litigation in many cases is going to be almost prohibitively expensive for the Plaintiff; even where it isn’t, the psychological and, sometimes, physical burdens on a Title VII Plaintiff can quickly become a real problem.  There may well be plenty of Title VII cases of questionable merit, but rare indeed is the case where the Plaintiff’s suit is intended as a strike suit or the Plaintiff doesn’t passionately believe the facts alleged in their complaint.  I’ve seen going through the stress of suit ruin Plaintiffs’ lives, and I’ve even seen Plaintiffs give up on fairly meritorious claims well into the litigation just because they couldn’t deal with the stress anymore.

                In the cases reported on Cain, the payment of a full year’s salary plus attorneys’ fees does not qualify as a super cheap settlement.  That doesn’t mean that the claims would have ultimately succeeded at trial or even that they were meritorious claims, though the fact that there are four of them certainly makes it more and more likely that they were meritorious or at least that one was.  But it does mean that they were non-frivolous and facially credible claims.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                I hear you, Mark, but the dynamics of the game were a bit different a decade ago.  In fact, just in the past few years, it’s swung back to making cases go away rather than consider each one as a potential dam-break.

                Hard to say if they were even insured against such things, as they are today.

                As for the particulars, how many women, did they ever actually file suit, etc., I too am not following close enough.  I’m hearing a lot of walk-backs and semi-sourced noise.  Not that I’m asserting Cain isn’t fully guilty of something.  I’m just not going to become an expert on this case unless a real shoe actually drops.



              • Tod – I haven’t been following this story very closely at all – or any of the quadrennial horse race, actually – but you say that his “insurance company’s lawyers” gave up a year’s salary plus legal expenses.  What is the basis for saying he was represented by an insurer?  I’m not saying you’re wrong, just that in the handful of employment discrimination claims I’ve litigated in some manner, there’s never been an insurance company involved as an indemnitor.


              • Mark –

                First off, regarding this:

                I haven’t been following this story very closely at all – or any of the quadrennial horse race, actually

                Good for you.

                Regarding the insurance part, I am surprised that there hasn’t been any insurance representation in the cases you’ve litigated.  I could be wrong about Cain on this, but I doubt it.

                Most companies that I am aware of that are either of a certain size or rely on a public presence have Employers Professional Liability  Insurance. These protect a company from a loss due to litigation by a current of ex-employee.  Companies in male dominated industries, like construction and manufacturing, often don’t usually purchase this; but most companies in industries that involve both white collar tasks and female executives do.  I would be shocked if there is any National Trade Association that does not carry such a policy.

                These policies are complete risk transfers, which means that the insurance carrier “owns” the risk and reserves the right to make a determination on whether to fight or settle claims.  Technically, they are responsible for council, though for cost reasons they usually allow the defendant to choose their own attorney if they wish.  (Though the carrier is still the paying client.)

                With these insurance contracts, the carrier retains the right to settle; the Association can fight on their own if they wish, but will be on the hook for any judgement amount and legal costs, less the amount the carrier wished to settle for.

                This is probably more than you were looking for…Report

              • Thanks, Tod.  Though I’ve done a fair number of Title VII or whistleblower cases – on both sides actually – a good chunk of them have involved either government defendants or small to medium sized businesses, though I did have one or two that involved large companies (both on the defense side).  That said, I suppose it’s likely that in a lot of those cases there was an insurance policy involved but wasn’t something that would have crossed my desk.  Actually, now that I think about it more, that’s almost certainly the case (as I suddenly remember filling out quarterly reports for insurers on one or two cases).  It’s been a few years since the last relevant one, but IIRC the client would have to seek approval for any settlement from the insurance company.  Or some such.  I think we still billed the client directly, though.Report

              • Also, regarding the government cases, they would be self-insured.  (And depending on the size of your biggies, perhaps them too.)Report

  12. Avatar Moom says:

    While this is an excellent piece on the role of sexual harassment policies, I’m a little concerned about the use of Bill Clinton’s problems as an example.   As far as we know, Bill Clinton’s involvement with Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky were consensual relationships.    Please remember the odd nature of the Paula Jones lawsuit (which turned sexual harassment laws on their head).     And while having a sexual relationship with a much younger women (who is working for you) shows poor judgment, Ms. Lewinsky was old enough to participate in a consensual relationship.    Fortunately for most of us, stupidity is not against the law.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Moom says:

      Most companies have policies about people of different hierarchical levels dating one another, and there is a reason for that.  Even if the relationship begins as a consensual, there is a difference in power dynamic that has the ability to create hostile work environments.

      In the case of Lewinksi, let’s take the President at his word that she was a bright, dedicated, skilled employee.  When he tired of her, she was shipped off to a dead end job in the Pentagon and treated by the White House as persona non grata – before the scandal leaked, mind you – effectively ending whatever career she was well on her way to developing.

      But even when the relationship is consensual and everything is mellow, these relationships can tear an organization apart.  Take the case from the post regarding my own history, where my manager was boinking the prettiest women in whatever office he worked in.  It turned out they were each the top sales person in their office.  It also turned out that he funneled the best leads and territories to them, as well as preferential pricing, and he went out with them to close the sales.  The company got hit with SH suits in both the San Fran and Colorado office – filed by the other female sales persons.

      Lastly, (and I kind of don’t want to go here, because I really do view Lewinski and Jones as victims and want to treat them with respect, but I think this bears noting), the choices made by both of them – both before and after the scandals broke – suggest to me that they were not the strongest, most self-confident cards in the deck.  It’s not like he seduced Shania Twain, or Michelle Pheifer, or Cindy Crawford, or whoever else was a successful sex icon of the 90s.  That a man of Clinton’s charm, charisma and power chose these kinds of women to have dalliances with troubles me; it also is kind of textbook SH behavior.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Moom says:

      people of different hierarchical levels

      Just curious: that precisely, or direct chain of command?  I’ve worked with people who have had to change departments as their SO got promoted to avoid the latter.Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        My unprofessional hunch is that it would matter on the specific nature of the business or company.  If people are colleagues in only the sense that the same company signs their paycheck but otherwise have nothing to do with each other, that is very different than someone who could eventually pull rank even if not directly overseeing the other.

        At my school, the Vice Principal is married to the Admissions Director.  They were married before working at the school and she came on board after him (when he was a divisional leader).  There work only overlaps somewhat, but there is a lot of whispering about where one person ends and the other begins and where loyalties ultimately lie.  It is not conducive to a healthy workplace, in my opinion.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        There’s what the org chart says the structure of command is, and there’s the reality on the ground of what the structure of command is.

        I’ve known places where the administrative assistant to the CEO could ruin your professional career.

        I’ve also known places where the right buddy in Accounting could reduce your stress load by 85%.Report

      • Mike – Most companies don’t care much about direct or not-direct chain of command; most simply have rules against dating someone at another level – even when those people are in different departments.Report

  13. Avatar Constance says:

     If you think of every woman in the workplace as a daughter, mother, or wife, it rather seems self-evident.

    Better yet, if you think of every woman in the workplace as a fellow human being and citizen, it seems self-evident.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Constance says:


      A very giant +1, in fact.  Well said.Report

    • I respectfully disagree.  Seeing people as one example of an abstraction like human beings rarely leads people to actually seeing them in human terms.  It’s only when they’re really pulled out of those abstractions and personalize that people normally begin to see them in human terms.  I.e., not just “a mother, wife daughter,” but, “what if this person was my mother, my wife, or my daughter.”

      Not that I disagree with Constance’s sentiment (although it assumes one actually has respect for human beings in general), but that I think in practice it doesn’t work.  Humans are social animals with strong in-group orientations, and “humanity” is really too broad a categorization to truly stimulate our emotions in response to a particular person.  But de-abstracting and personalizing them, putting them into one’s in-group conception, often works very well.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to James Hanley says:

        Yeah, I’m kinda with James on this one.  I’m kinda wishy-washy on my fellow human beings, but I love my wife, my daughter, and my mother.

        It helps to think of fellow human beings, in general, as your wife, your daughter, your sister, your mother… or your brother, your father, or your son.

        Unless *all* of your relatives are crazy, of course.Report

        • I think where I took Constance’s comment was that if you start thinking of women in your workplace as “Women” who somehow need to be treated differently then you’re heading for trouble – even if your intentions are good.

          Better to treat everyone at your job as a person who deserves respect and consideration.  Less potential fallout that way.Report

  14. Avatar BSK says:


    First and foremost, thank you for your work on sexual harassment.  What often gets lost in these conversations is that there are very real victims of sexual harassment, who often suffer physical, emotional, social, and financial harm.  SH has become a joke to many, something lampooned on television and bemoaned as oppressive to men.  But that is not the reality.  And it would behoove us all to consider the impact of our interactions on the cultures and climates we create in the workplace and how this impacts our colleagues, our customers, and our collective success.

    With regards to the response to SH, I used to worry about the tendency towards false allegations.  As I’ve learned more about it, it is hard for me to assume such nefarious motives in anything but the most extreme situations.  Going forward with SH accusations is serious business.  It can be an incredibly vulnerable experience in which the violation is exacerbated.  This reality is even more intense when it is done in the public eye.

    Do deliberately false accusations happen?  I’m sure.  But they are few and far between.  Most misplaced accusations are likely, as Tod pointed out, a matter of wildly different understandings of a situation.  I just don’t think most mentally and emotionally stable women are going to say, “Ya know what?  Let me accuse an innocent guy of harrassment, deal with all the ‘slut shaming’ and professional repercussions, in the HOPES of getting a settlement.”Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BSK says:

      Agreed with this.  I know from talking with people in relevant positions in my college how often students who have been raped do not want to come forward and make charges against the person who raped them.  I am sure that it’s far more common–by orders of magnitude–for sexually harassed women to not make accusations than it is for non-sexually harassed women to make false accusations.

      Yes, we should be concerned about false positives, but when false negatives are so much more common, logic dictates that we be more concerned about those.Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to James Hanley says:

        That is where my change in position originated from.  I used to be bothered by the notion that a drunken hookup between two college sophmoures could lead to legit rape accusations against the male and male only.  I have since made a drastic shift in my position, for largely what JH said here: accusing someone of rape is a horrible experience.  Accusing a famous person of rape is a horrible experience times a million.  While rape =/= sexual harassment, they are not in different ballparks either.  Look at what is already being said about Cain’s accusers.  And we all know that rape shielf laws and confidentiality agreements are as thin as the paper they are written on.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to BSK says:

          I wish that wasn’t the case, that we could actually understand that yes, women can rape guys, and prosecute accordingly, when the situation demandsReport

          • Avatar BSK in reply to Kimmi says:


            I do still have misgivings about the notion that only women can be victims and that inebriated women are inherently incapable of voicing consent.  There is definitely still problematic for me.  But the idea that a girl is going to get drunk, hook up with a dude, and wake up with a hangover and go to the campus police to file rape charges is pretty absurd when you look at what that really entails.Report

        • Avatar wardsmith in reply to BSK says:

          Ok then, what’s your take on Kobe’s “rape victim”?Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

            I think it’s entirely possible that he raped her and that one of the reasons he picked her was probably because he figured he could get away with it.

            I think it’s entirely possible that she actually agreed to the whole thing and then changed her mind and he didn’t stop.

            I think it’s entirely possible that she did make the whole accusation up.

            I don’t think there is any way to reasonably judge the existing evidence in such a way that it leads you conclusively to any of the three possibilities being true beyond a reasonable doubt.

            There haven’t been any other rape accusations, and rapists typically do it more than once, so that makes me think that the first one is less likely, but it doesn’t rule it out.  There’s no way to judge the middle case unless you’ve got a recording or the woman kicks up a big enough fuss to get the crap beat out of her and that’s horrible and wrong and sick but I don’t trust anyone’s account of anything implicitly.  Finally, it’s generally a really trying experience to accuse anybody of rape, so the last one seems very unlikely to me but not enough for me to rule it out, either.Report

            • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              The 3 different semen “donations” in her panties didn’t help much. Let’s just agree she wasn’t the Virgin Mary and leave it at that.

              In our society if you are rich, powerful, successful and marginally handsome you will be hit on. If foolish (read horny) enough to succumb things are not going to go well for you. If one believed in God we could call it temptation, but in secular society I guess we just call it – what, bad luck?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

                You can sleep willingly with three different people in even one day and that doesn’t mean that when you decide you don’t like it in the hind end and the fourth guy doesn’t stop, he’s not raping you.

                She was never going to get justice, if she was a victim, Ward.  That’s cruel, but that’s the world.

                If it wasn’t rape, he probably got more than enough hell from his wife but, it’s none of my business.

                I think he’s doing okay, if he’s an innocent victim and all.  Missing out on a $50 million dollar endorsement or two sucks, but I don’t think it put him in the poorhouse.  And really, if you want $50 million dollar endorsements, it kinda behooves you to act like Captain America all the time.  That’s what you’re getting paid for, after all.Report

              • Avatar BSK in reply to wardsmith says:

                And this is why so many women don’t come forward.  Their sexual histories are dragged out into public and any embracing of their sexuality is held against them.  They are presumed to be gold diggers or jersey chasers or women who get off on powerful men.  Rape is rape, whether the victim is a porn star or a nun, a prostitute or a virgin, promiscuous or prude.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to BSK says:

                That’s true, BSK.

                I don’t have much in a way of an answer here.  Like child abuse, rape cases are really hard to judge unless you get some pretty damning evidence.

                This means that rapists and child abusers often go unpunished.  It sucks.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to BSK says:

                BSK I actually Googled  “porn star sues for sexual harassment” and got tons of hits including some very funny spoofs. I was thinking along the lines of a porn star, playing a rape victim in a movie and actually getting raped on camera, yelling “no no” the whole time. That would make for an interesting lawsuit no? Of course uncle Google always delivers so when I changed to “porn star sues for rape” I got this. Interesting case indeed.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

                I oftern google the same thing.  (Well, the first two words of that phrase, anyway.)Report

  15. Avatar Matty says:

    Apologies for asking you to work for free but I have a general question about the kind of policies an employer should have.

    Specifically, I’ve been told in the past the harrasment is defined as any activity that is percieved that way by the victim or any other person. It’s the precived by any other person part I have trouble understanding, it surely can’t mean that I as a third party can just decide that a certain interaction is harrasment even when both people involved insist it isn’t so what does it mean?

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Matty says:

      What it means is that if the head of sales is sleeping with the top salesperson, the other salespeople can regard that as harassment even if the other two are all fine and dandy (and ethical!) about it.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Matty says:

      My recommendation is to actually have two written policies, each folded into employee handbooks and expressly approved (in the minutes) by the corporation’s board:

      One policy should note that your company does not tolerate any kind of hostile work environment, and lay out potential consequences for those that transgress.  It should also detail a specific process for complaints.  (Also, the company should treat each case with equal concern, and avoid the temptation to ever say “Oh, that person’s just making trouble, there’s no need to investigate.”)  This policy should also lay out the company’s commitment to following the four steps it must take to be defensible should a suit arise: Investigation, Determination, Action, and Follow Up.

      The second policy should be a Whistle Blower policy, that states that the company does not retaliate against employees that lodge complaints about things such as a hostile work environment.  In today’s climate, this is just as important as the first policy.

      Matty, is this for your own company?  If so, feel free to shoot me an email; I would be happy to send over boiler plate language.Report

  16. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I keep getting the feeling that the point is not “what happened” but “who’s arguing” and, of course, folks fall in line according to who they’d most rather be fighting against.

    Cain should withdraw and if he honestly thought that this wouldn’t come to light, he’s dumber than that commercial with that smoking guy.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

      Generally speaking, I find that when people have this sort of thing in their closet, they have literally forgotten it was there.

      They went on and did all this other stuff between their “acting poorly” and their running for office now and nobody refused to hire them or give them a bonus or dumped a flaming bag of doo on their front porch.

      Usually, they’re surprised.  People are really funny that way.Report

      • This probably goes back to the whole “privilege” discussion.

        I guess all you can do is make a stink as big and high as possible and communicate that this is not acceptable.

        And keep being surprised when it keeps coming up.Report

      • Avatar BSK in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        That fascinates me.  I’m still bothered by rather small errors in my past.  I move on, eventually, and might not immediately recall it if someone said, “Have you ever done anything naughty?” but if someone said, “Have you ever been too drunk to drive but did it anyway and not get caught?” I am immediately hit with the nausea and regret that that memory conjures up.  So, while Cain might not have thought about the skeletons in the closet before running, I struggle to imagine that he wouldn’t recall any of it when pressed with details.  Maybe there is a certain amount of self-delusion that running for office requires, but I find it hard to believe that he genuinely forgot that this happened.  And, assuming the allegations are true, I find it harder to believe that he forgot even doing it.  Unless, of course, he didn’t think there was anything wrong with what he did and settled for convenience or legal reasons.  It is much easier to forget what you consider innocuous behavior.  Which might prove to be the most concerning aspect of all.Report

      • @Pat: “Generally speaking, I find that when people have this sort of thing in their closet, they have literally forgotten it was there.”

        Yeah, in most cases.  But in this case, where (at least) four incidents led to suits and eventual payouts?  Call me dubious.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Oh, no, I mean there’s cognitive dissonance going on there.

          “I had these minor incidents back when I was in charge of the NRA, but it blew away with a few payoffs and nobody said, “Boo”.  Then I ran for President in 2000 and nobody brought it up; nobody brought it up in the 2004 Senate campaign, either.  It’s done, it’s dead, I don’t have to worry about it any more.”

          …Time passes…

          “Mr. Cain, what do you have to say about these allegations…”

          … stumble, stutter, uh, whatthehellthiswasn’tsupposedtohappen…

          People build thought constructs in their heads when they do something wrong, so that they have their defense ready.  If enough time passes, it crumbles from disuse.  Lies require mental work.Report

          • I see where you’re going.  Good point.

            I made this point to Elias earlier this week, but I have been wondering to what extent the Cain campaign went in assuming they would never have a legitimate shot at getting traction, and so never bothered to do actual campaign-management-y stuff to prepare for situations like this.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              Bingo. Cain thought he’d get his 10-12% in Iowa and New Hampshire, sell some books, and get a nice juicy spot on FOX as either a host or somebody who appears on panels a lot.Report

        • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          There are now four incidents? I asked for the link above but no one answered and just spent 10 minutes reading Politico on it. I still only see 2 and one of them looks questionable (looks like the same person twice). Of course Politico /claims/ they’ve talked to /sources/ so of course I have to take that as gospel.

          Is this a bit like gropegate where Davis paid for women to show up 5 days before Arnold’s election? Am I the only one who thinks this has Rove written all over it?Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:


            On the other hand, paying women to show up five days before the election didn’t change the fact that Arnold couldn’t keep it in his pants, either.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

            “Is this a bit like gropegate where Davis paid for women to show up 5 days before Arnold’s election? Am I the only one who thinks this has Rove written all over it?”

            Yes and no.  Rove may have been behind the leaks (who knows?), but whoever leaked it seems beside the point.  Remember that there have been two confirmed payouts, each one for a years salary to the female employee, and that these took place when he was in the private sector, not running for office.

            Also, I think you need to take his various responses into account: I have never been accused of SH; I was accused but it went nowhere; There may have been settlements but I was not aware that there were; Yes I knew there were settlements but Perry should be ashamed of himself.

            Here is a link for the fourth I just googled, btw.Report

            • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              At what level are these charges permissible in a court of law? As his defense attorney wouldn’t you demand they be thrown out immediately? Ala my post to Pat above, he’s being convicted without a trial. This could be why no one but a sociopath would dare run for office in this country.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

                I’m not sure I understand your question.  What do you mean, at what level are they permissible in a court of law?

                Obviously, they are permissible, because at least these two women filed a suit, and each suit triggered an insurance claim, and the carrier settled out of court rather than let it go farther.  How does that translate to their charges are not permissible in a court of law?Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Tod, what gets allowed in a “filing” is substantially different than what gets allowed as evidence and in testimony. You’re the lawyer you know what I mean. Where is the opportunity to face the accuser? Where’s the cross-x? Going to court is expensive, it’s a crapshoot but it’s a /chance/ to find the truth albeit not as fair as a coin toss. Of course if you’re going to do “a high tech lynching“, the first rule is you wait at least a decade so witnesses can’t be found, memories can be foggy, innuendo has a chance to build… hmm just like?Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

                OK, two things:

                First, I am not – repeat, NOT – a lawyer.  (Not there is anything wrong with being one – I think it’s kind of an awesome job; I just don’t want anyone thinking I am reporting myself as something that I am not.)

                Second, regarding this:

                Of course if you’re going to do “a high tech lynching“, the first rule is you wait at least a decade so witnesses can’t be found, memories can be foggy, innuendo has a chance to build… hmm just like?

                Are you seriously floating the theory that this was staged, hidden, and kept in the dark so that it could be brought out now?  If so, you need to find the people who foresaw Cain being a frontrunner for President 10+ years ago and get them to start doing all of your investing.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Damn, you’re not a lawyer? My bad, somehow I got that impression. I’m not floating the “theory” you propose. I’m equally certain that Clarence Thomas’ so-called “victim” didn’t expect him to be up for Supreme Court either. But “hell hath no fury like a woman”. 😉Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Yeah, it seemed like something too out there for you to claim.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

                I think it’s a formality that every defense attorney is always going to file a motion to dismiss immediately.

                Ward, he’s not being convicted of anything.  He’s not going to jail.  Nobody is going to throw him in the clink.

                This could be why no one but a sociopath would dare run for office in this country.

                This is probably a contributing factor.  I blame partisans on both sides.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I blame partisans on both sides.

                But Patrick, how could things be any different? Partisanship is a response to retail political pressures, the ways of the world and competing conceptions of how things ought to be. There will always be two, three, four sides arguing for/against policy P. And any group will achieve their policy goals either by force or persuasion. Partisanship is the nature of <i>any </i>social system where large enough sub-groups advocate competing interests.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Stillwater says:

                There is pretty much a solid run of “muckraking as business as usual” in the history of American politics.

                There are a couple of times when partisans didn’t do this sort of thing.  But for the most part, the True Believers will say and do what they think is necessary to get their candidate in office, because their candidate will Make Everything Better, even if their candidate is an asshole.

                I didn’t say it could be different, Stillwater.  It’s pretty much the way things are.  That doesn’t mean it’s not the partisans who are mucking up the muck.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to wardsmith says:


                we have relatively few sociopaths in office right now. aside from lieberman, I can’t really think of anyone you could credibly say “yeah, he’s a sociopath” (and lieberman mostly because he was willing to sacrifice Anyone to get back in power)Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kimmi says:

                I don’t think Lieberman is a sociopath.

                I think he’s a grumpy pissed off old man.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                as they say in the biz, if the shoe fits, wear it.

                Predicting Lieberman’s moves was simple, if you just pictured, “okay, what would a sociopath do?”Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kimmi says:

                On the other hand, it was also easy if you asked yourself, “OK, what would a career politician that knew he’d win do?”Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:


                no, that doesn’t explain why lieberman decided that “if I don’t win the primary, I’ll still run as an independent” and announced that ahead of time.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Kimmi says:

                Yeah, but Kimmi, he didn’t just say that out of the blue like a crazy person.  He said it once it was obvious that he was going to lose.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:


                …it was in no way shape or form obvious that he was going to lose. now, you might say that was just my opinion… but it’s a rather educated one. Hillary bet on him, after all.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Kimmi says:

                Kimmi, I cannot imagine making /you/ the sole arbiter of social pathology.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to wardsmith says:

                ahem. who said it was moi? 😉Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

      Cain should withdraw and if he honestly thought that this wouldn’t come to light, he’s dumber than that commercial with that smoking guy.

      Or he’s dumb like a fox. It could be all about the grift. I’ve heard people do these sorts of things in politics.Report

  17. Avatar Michelle D. says:

    Thank you for speaking out.Report

  18. Avatar Mopey Duns says:

    Cain responded poorly, and in a way that indicates that 1)He is probably guilty and 2)He and his campaign do not know how to handle this sort of thing.

    The instant the first report came to light, if he wanted to maintain any credibility, he needed to make a full disclosure of all the SH charges against him in the past to make a clean breast of things, and to follow that up with boilerplate on his commitment to preventing SH and how he deeply regrets the misunderstandings that led to the suits (I say boilerplate because I assume he would be lying through his teeth).  His failure to do so indicates a fundamental dishonesty and incompetence that clearly makes him an inappropriate candidate for President.  You can be dishonest or incompetent and still be President; when you are both, there is a serious problem.Report

  19. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Two headlines from the Google News main page:

    1. Cain: I’ll never answer harassment questions
    2. Kim Bans Divorce Drama From TV Show