As the GOP race to the primaries gets hotter and faster, so do the rhetoric and revelations about certain candidates. In recent weeks, there have been two stand-outs; Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. One can’t control his mouth, the other (it has been alleged) can’t control his libido. But I digress…
For as much of a drama-consuming culture as we have here in America, these GOP candidates certainly aren’t letting us down in that respect. Herman Cain has been plagued with allegations of sexual harassment lately, by Sharon Bialek of Chicago, Illinois. The alleged “groping” was said to have taken place during a 1997 meeting with Cain, who was then CEO of the National Restaurant Association. Ms. Bialek had gone to meet with Cain due to losing her job with the association. While Cain denies that he ever groped, or even met Ms. Bialek, her ex-boyfriend has come forward in her defense, corroborating her statements. (1)
Then there’s Ginger White, an Atlanta, Georgia businesswoman. White claims that she was engaged in a thirteen-year affair with Herman Cain. Cain has countered that White was simply a “friend” that he aided financially but that his wife, Gloria Cain, had not been told anything regarding Ms. White. Now, Herman Cain has stated that he will be “reassessing” his presidential campaign.(2) (3)
This situation brings to mind not one, but three instances of either alleged or affirmed presidential impropriety. In 1802, allegations were made in the press regarding an alleged affair and children sired between President Thomas Jefferson and one Sally Hemings, a slave woman who was also the half-sister of Martha Wayles Jefferson by Martha’s father, John Wayles. The allegations were published in the Richmond Recorder by one James T. Callender, a political journalist of the day. Jefferson’s response to the allegations? He remained silent. He neither affirmed nor denied the story, thereby depriving his detractors of any ammunition they would have otherwise garnered from a public denial or affirmation.
During the presidential campaign of 1884, Republicans discovered that Democratic nominee Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock with one Maria Crofts Halpin. When confronted with the emerging scandal, he decided to pursue a two-pronged approach. Publicly he ignored the scandal, but told close advisors that if asked, to tell the truth. While the popular vote was close, the vote in the Electoral College gave Cleveland the majority, with 219-182. Grover Cleveland thus became our twenty-second President of The United States.
Then there was the infamous Monica Lewinsky affair of 1998, (also known as “MonicaGate,” “LewinskyGate,” “ZipperGate,” pick your pet name!) a media circus impeachment proceeding and a hair-splitting debate on what exactly constitutes “sexual relations.” As we all know, President Clinton famously and firstly announced to the American people at the time, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” but then was forced to backpedal.
(SOAPBOX=ON) If it t’were me and I was running for high office, any skeletons rattling around in my closets would have to be inventoried first. Then, if any of them slipped out and presented themselves, any “damage control” would be made easier. In Herman Cain’s case, denial isn’t working out too well. His numbers are going downhill fast, and if you ask me, I do believe his days of office-seeking are numbered.
On a semi-related note, GOP candidate and former Speaker of The House Newt Gingrich isn’t making any new allies or friends in the low-income sector lately. During a campaign stop in Iowa yesterday, Gingrich stated that children growing up in poor neighborhoods do not have a solid work ethic.(4) Specifically, he stated that;
“Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday,” and also that, “They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it is illegal.”
Mr. Gingrich appears to have a very narrow, elitist view of the poor. Are we sure we want to send someone like this to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? I think not.