By George E. Curry
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. – Genesis 4:8
In Biblical times, Cain slew Abel. Today, another Cain – Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain – can’t put to death the allegations by at least four women that he sexually harassed them in the late 1990s during his tenure as president of the National Restaurant Association.
Cain’s shifting and contradictory explanations are part of a larger pattern of what FactCheck.org calls “a proven ability to spread outrageously false information – such as accusing Planned Parenthood of ‘genocide’ and concentrating abortion clinics in black neighborhoods.”
Cain has mismanaged the sexual harassment claims from the beginning.
Politico reported on Oct. 30: “During Herman Cain’s tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, at least two female employees complained to colleagues and senior association officials about inappropriate behavior by Cain, ultimately leaving their jobs at the trade group, multiple sources confirm…” George E. Curry
The Web site reported, “…They signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departure.”
Politico protected the identity of two women who had filed charges again Cain. The New York Times reported on a third woman. And on Monday, a fourth woman – the first to go public – held a press conference in New York to detail charges against Cain. Sharon Bialek said Cain tried to obtain sexual favors from her in exchange for his help in finding her a new job.
When the scandal first broke, Cain said in a speech at the National Press Club on Oct. 31 that he was “unaware of any settlement” with women who had accused him of sexual harassment. Later, on that same day, he gave a different answer in an interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News.
According to a transcript of the program, Cain said, “The one [complaining employee] that I am familiar with worked in the Washington office. And I can’t even remember her name because she had not been a long-term employee. But I do remember the formal allegations she made in terms of sexual harassment.” When asked about the settlement, Cain replied: “Maybe three months’ salary or something like that, just vaguely trying to recall it.”
The next day, in an interview with Robin Meade on CNN, Cain changed the payoff amount to “somewhere in the vicinity of three to six months.”
According to the New York Times, it was even larger. On Nov. 2, the newspaper, citing three unnamed sources with “direct knowledge” of the case, said the women were given a year’s salary to leave the trade association. In his interview with Van Susteren, Cain said that he was having difficulty recalling all the details of the alleged sexual harassment incident because it was 12 years ago. However, in a story published Nov. 2 on Forbes magazine’s online site, Cain said he had shared the sexual harassment allegations with a consultant he used in his failed 2004 U.S. Senate campaign in Georgia.
The Politico story also noted, “Cain, who has been married to his wife Gloria for 43 years, did tell at least one campaign staffer this year about the possibility that claims of sexual harassment could surface, according to the aide.”
The candidate who likes to lecture people about personal responsibility has chosen to play the blame game. He told Van Susteren, “I have no idea who’s egging this on, who’s on this witch hunt…”
And there was this exchange on CNN:
MEADE: So you feel this is a smear campaign? From whom, do you think?
CAIN: I absolutely believe that this is an intended smear campaign using these two cases – like I said, I’m not even aware of the second one. It’s a smear campaign. When they cannot –
MEADE: By whom? Do you know by whom?
CAIN: We don’t know. We have no idea.
Later in the program, Cain blamed “the innuendoes from all the news reports that haven’t been presenting the facts.”
In the Forbes interview, Cain shifted the blame from the media to Curt Anderson, a former Cain consultant now working for Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential bid. After Anderson denied the charge, Cain’s backed away from his allegation.
That is not the only example of Cain flip-flopping. He was interviewed Oct. 19 on CNN by Piers Morgan. After Cain said he is opposed to abortion under all circumstances, Morgan pressed the GOP presidential candidate.
MORGAN: But you’ve had children, grandchildren. If one of your female children, grandchildren, was raped, you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?
CAIN: …No, it comes down to it’s not the government’s role, or anybody else’s role to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you’re not talking that big a number. So what I’m saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t have to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive issue.
But in an Oct. 30 interview on “Meet the Press” with Bob Schieffer, Cain took adopted a different position.
CAIN: … I am pro-life from conception, period. I was – that piece that was pulled out was taken totally out of context when we were talking about –
SCHIEFFER: Okay, so in other words – you don’t – would not ever believe in abortion if rape, incest or the health of the mother was involved.
CAIN: Correct. That’s my position.
As we have seen, Cain’s position changes frequently, sometimes within the same day. Maybe contradicting himself or outright lying is the curse of Cain.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. He can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry. com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.