Contemporary U.S. culture suffers a special kind of irony, one that could hardly have been predicted. For years, conservative Washington has been considered a bastion of racism, and in those same years, conservatives have contended that it is about facts and merit. No more, no less.
The United States is in its third year under the tenure of its first Black president-an event that many thought would never happen in the first place, never mind the possibility of the challenging nominee being another Black man from the “racist party.”
What you hear from some conservative commentators, that this is a “high-tech lynching” of an “uppity Black conservative” and the media is punishing him for being “Black while conservative,” is ludicrous and boring. Ludicrous not only because you can’t for a minute tell me Politico wouldn’t have run the story if it had been Romney, Perry, Paul or Bachmann, but because the use of language with such negative connotations and history is imprudent and unnecessary.
The backlash Herman Cain is receiving has little to do with the fact that he’s a Republican, nothing to do with his skin color and everything to do with the fact that news today in the “Age of Twitter” reports first and asks questions later. It must be radical, sensational and, most importantly, it must go viral. And where it’s not ludicrous, it’s boring, because we already know the media is biased against Republicans. So what? We’ve been saying that for years.
But why bring about the question of race? Don’t Republicans hate it when they oppose Democrats “of color” on policy or make a personal accusation, and the first response of that Democrat “of color” and his or her defenders is to say, “You must be a racist.” Don’t Republicans hate that?
Well, why was the first response from some conservatives that this must have to do with Cain’s race? That makes them guilty of the same race-baiting we accuse Democrats of. Let’s stick to the issue.
The real issue is, why are Cain’s responses so inconsistent and incoherent? Most Republican voters find it hard to believe he didn’t remember details about a significant accusation only 12 years old. Put yourself in his shoes, Bruce. You’re successful. You have ambitions. You have a career and a reputation. And four women are making accusations that could end it all today.
One of the accusers Sharon Bialek, who is represented by ambulance chasing attorney Gloria Allred, had her share of the spotlight yesterday to tell her side of the story. It shouldn’t surprise many about how salacious and detailed her allegations were. “Instead of going into the offices, he suddenly reached over and put his hand on my leg, up my skirt, and towards my genitals,” Bialek said. “He also grabbed my head and brought it toward his crotch. I was very, very surprised and very shocked.”
Anyone can bring allegations against a public or private official with an attorney that specializes in vicious allegations. I would caution the public to make sure that these accusers are thoroughly vetted before giving them any benefit of the doubt.
However, you’re telling me you wouldn’t have these episodes seared into your brain and soul for the rest of your life? Republicans and the rest of this nation are right to have questions about all this and wonder why Cain is having so much trouble remembering and bringing this messy episode to closure.
Republicans are a forgiving group. If Cain was clear, consistent and open about this from the beginning and if the accusations truly were baseless, he’d be fine and it would be yesterday’s news, especially if it turns out this wasn’t about sex or infidelity but was instead about inappropriate office humor, as Cain suggests.
Let’s be frank here: This is an incident that was settled and really should not have any bearing on the campaign. Cain should have said it was an incident that occurred and denied any wrongdoing. He should have said up front it was the National Restaurant Association’s view to settle, not his. If he had, this media frenzy would have been over with before it even began.
With the state that the American economy is in, we cannot afford to be distracted from the issues. Getting people back to work, more effective corporate governance, solving the housing crisis and protecting our interests (domestically and overseas) are what we should focus on. This debacle is merely another attempt by political pundits to stop an intelligent conversation about real issues. We cannot continue to have the tail wag the dog at the expense of the American people.
What Cain stands for are basic principles for the electorate: smaller government, private sector accountability and less taxpayer burden. My concern is that Americans turn on the television to get their opinion on who won a debate and who is leading the polls without considering the information and drawing their own conclusions.
Cain represents a new point of view, contrary to the masses, a Black man having a principled, credible following of conservative Americans. I applaud him as he shares the views of many African-Americans with the conviction to state them publicly.
Let’s not stop the conversation now, it is just too important.
Armstrong Williams content can be found on RightSideWire.com. He is also the author of the new book “Reawakening Virtues.” Listen to him daily on Sirius Power 128, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/arightside and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/arightside.