New ad from Herman Cain supporters puts shameful "high-tech lynching" remark centerstage
So let me get this straight, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Brent Bozell.
People creating photoshopped images of America's first black president as a witch doctor, refusing to believe he was born in America despite loads of evidence and insisting he is a closet Muslim seeking to destroy America -- none of that is about race. In fact, complaining about it is playing some sort of shameful "race card" which unfairly uses racial conflict to win a political argument for a Democratic party leader.
But when a top GOP candidate, who happened to be black, is accused of sexually harassing subordinates badly enough that the lobbying organization he ran paid $80,000 in settlements to two women, THAT's a "high tech lynching"?
If media reports are to be believed, and so far POLITICO, the New York Times and The Associated Press have all broken significant details on this, there are four different people alleging Cain behaved inappropriately towards female subordinates. One of them, GOP pollster Chris Wilson, has revealed his name publicly. Another of them, one of the women paid a settlement, has asked the National Restaurant Association for permission to vioate a confidentiality agreement and release a statement telling her side of the matter.
And now supporters of Cain have released a video claiming this is all a "high tech lynching" of the candidate in the way Clarence Thomas was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill.
Just when we thought the GOP race couldn't get any weirder than Rick Perry's bizarre debate performances.
At the very least, you would expect partisans who wanted Bill Clinton impeached for lying about an extramarital affair in the White House to demand a full accounting of what happened in Cain's case -- allowing the women to speak without fear of litigation over their confidentiality agreements.
But that won't happen. Because this "lynching" defense of Cain is not about logic or fairness or respect for a shameful chapter in American history. It is, once again, about winning at any cost.
I noted in a previous column that such incendiary language distracts from the point at hand. But the point of an ad like the one embedded below is distraction; as details pile up about what actually happened, Cain's campaign desperately wants to move the conversation to another subject.
If the details reported by the news organizations cited above are true, the candidate has a lot of explaining to do about previously disengenuous answers I'm sure he and his supporters would rather avoid.
They have also made the bush-league mistake of keeping the story in the news by making unsubstantiated allegations that the story was leaked by a specific person now working for the Perry campaign. Now, with this ad, they seem to be betting that the support it sparks from conservatives convinced Cain is being martyred, will counteract whatever disclosures are about to break regarding details of the harassment.
It's a cynical "innoculation" strategy, aimed at positioning supporters to distrust any details yet to emerge about the growing scandal. And it just might work with a GOP electorate desperate to see its view of race and economics confirmed by a candidate Newsweek recently called the "anti-Obama."
Regardless of whether it costs the Republican Party its soul. Or adds to America's already tortured, non-sensical conflicts on race and racism.
Stuff like this, by the way, is why 94 percent of black voters cast ballots for Democrats in the last presidential election. (h/t to Poynter's Media News site)