I’ve been giving the Herman Cain “sex scandal” story a lot of thought, and done a lot of reading about it around the ‘Net. And the more I read, the more I think that, in the long run, it won’t really matter much.
Cain’s detractors look at the number of accusers, the amateur way he and his campaign handle them, and reaffirm their opinion that he just isn’t qualified to be president.
Cain’s supporters (and I count myself among them) look at the inconsistencies and lack of proof in the accusations, the genuine passion and sheer un-rehearsed nature of his defense, and reaffirm our opinion that this is someone we can respect and follow.
The nature of scandals like this — where there is no definitive proof one way or another, no blue dress — is that it tends to reinforce people’s opinions, not change them. The only people likely to be swayed are those in the middle, those who don’t have a solid opinion of the candidate — and Cain is the kind of man who inspires strong feelings. Quite simply, this sort of thing tends to sway the undecideds, and there really aren’t that many people who don’t have a pretty strong opinion of him.
Nor will more accusers like the ones already out there change things. Again, his detractors will simply see the numbers and take it as affirmation, while supporters will see it as more and more evidence that the “get Cain” is going full-tilt at him and trying the same old game. Indeed, as the media presents more and more accusers, the attitude of “yeah, whatever — got anything REAL this time, or just more of the same crap?” will only increase. (I almost wrote “if the media,” but then realized that assuming that they will is a pretty safe bet.)
There are a few things that could be real game-changers. An accuser could come forward with actual evidence to back up her claims. Or an accuser could be discovered to have fabricated the whole story, discrediting the other claimants by association. (Not necessarily fairly, but let’s be honest here.) But as long as the game continues as it’s being played now, the only thing it will achieve is to give Cain more opportunities to say “I nothing more to say about that unless you actually have something new and substantive to add; otherwise, I’m going to go on talking about real issues.”
In the meantime, I’m thinking of undertaking a blogging exercise later today that I saw somewhere else, and I think I could really stand to do…