The XX Factor

Herman Cain Decides Which Questions May Be Asked of Herman Cain

Move along. Nothing to see here.

Photograph by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images.

In the wake of Ginger White’s claim that she carried on a 13-year consensual affair with presidential candidate Herman Cain, Cain’s attorney, Lin Wood, made a rather startling claim.

This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace—this is not an accusation of an assault—which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate. Rather, this appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults—a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public. No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life.

“Um, did Wood sleep through the Clinton administration?” Howard Kurtz asks at the Daily Beast. To which we can add, did Wood also sleep through the John Edwards affair, and the Gary Hart scandal? Might he have heard of certain politicians who go by the names of Henry Hyde, Bob Livingston, Anthony Weiner, Chris Lee, Mark Souder and John Ensign? No? What about Newt Gingrich, who is also running for the presidency—surely Wood has heard of him? Gingrich’s six-year extramarital affair with a congressional staffer was the subject of a whole lot of media and public inquiry. The staffer’s name was Callista. She may look familiar.  

Those of us with slightly better memories may recall that Wood is the attorney Cain brought in when a whole slew of women were accusing the candidate of sexually harassing them. Wood is the same fellow who advised that such women “think twice” before going public with their accusations. (He further added that he was “not here to scare anyone off.” Thank goodness.) As far as Cain and his attorney are concerned, no matter how many Ginger Whites come forward, not to mention how many Sharon Bialeks or Karen Kraushaars, the story is the same. Five women are no more believeable than one woman, since they all share the same motivation of lying to bring him down. As Cain told Wolf Blitzer yesterday, in discussing the accusation of adultery:

You go through life and you believe that you have some people that are friends. And when someone that appears to be a friend turns around and concocts this story, you’ve got to question, the hundreds of thousands of people that I have met in my life? A hundred thousand people could possibly come out.

A hundred thousand? My god! What a conspiracy of vengeful liars. But then, apparently not content that he’d sufficiently innoculated himself, Cain went further.

It’s probably an infinite number of people who could come forward with a story.

Infinite, wow. It’s a good thing Cain and his attorney have decided none of this—neither Ginger White’s claim nor the candidate’s bizarre responses—is legitimate for the press or the public to consider. Otherwise, consider how exhausted we’d be making up our own minds.