A Very Public Caining
posted at 7:25 am on December 4, 2011 by Dafydd ab Hugh
Right. So Herman Cain is O-U-T out, and we still don’t know whether all the charges lodged against him, from sexual harassment to sexual battery, with a stop-over on the cheatin’ side of town, are true; or whether some or perhaps the entirety are a fusillade of fabrications, phantasms, confabulations, and falsehoods.
But we will know — and very soon, too. I have in mind an infallible test, one that the Godfather might not even realize he’s taking.
There is little that a candidate for public office can do to punish a political operation that is savaging the principal. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to (a) push a positive public-policy agenda for the voters, (b) respond to political attacks by competitors and launch his own counterattacks, and (c) chastise third-party liars and libelers clandestinely dispatched by ideological enemies.
He just has to shrug off (c) and hope that nobody believes the slanders anyway; he simply doesn’t have the option of nuking the craven dastards properly — that is, while he’s still in the game scrambling for nomination or election.
But it’s all topsy-turvey once a candidate drops out of the running. At that point, he has given up all hope of election this cycle… so he has nothing left to lose by crushing his tawdry traducers. In fact, if he is to run again in the future with any hope of success, he is obliged to clear his good name; else his next opponent will cheerfully resurrect the old and unanswered charges, jump-starting the scandal serenade once again. The once and never again candidate would be forever barred from running for president, governor, congressman, or Chairman of the Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes, and Little Men’s Chowder & Marching Society.
Thus we come to Mr. Cain, who abruptly announced yesterday that he is no longer in play to be President of the United States… who thus is also finally free to fully answer his accusers — most specifically Miss Ginger White, a longtime “friend” who now claims to have engaged in a 13-year sex romp with the erstwhile CEO of Godfather Pizza.
And so at last we come to the test: Now that Cain has dropped out of the race, if he is an innocent victim of calumny, he must go after Miss White in court.
If Cain sues White for libel and slander, her only defense would be truth. She certainly cannot claim never to have said that they had a long-term affair; she said it on national TV. Nor can she claim that she caused him no damages; arguably, it cost him his shot at the presidency! Neither can she rely upon his status as a public figure (which of course he is), because she certainly knows for a fact whether they had an affair; therefore, if they did not, yet she said they did, then that would certainly satisfy the requirement of “actual malice.”
No, no, and no; her only defense is to claim truth. But in such a case, my non-lawyer understanding is that truth is an “affirmative defense”… meaning the burden of proof shifts to the defendant, Miss White, to prove that they did indeed have an affair. Cain would not have to prove they didn’t; White would have to prove that they did. If she could not, she would lose her case; White would be slapped with potentially ruinous damages, and more to the point, Herman Cain would be utterly vindicated.
In fact, although there is no logical connection, if a court were to find Miss White liable for libel, or if she ‘fessed up and apologized, that verdict would cast grave doubt in most people’s minds about all the other accusations against Cain as well; that’s just how people think. If the worst charge against him is demolished as a mean-spirited, vicious falsehood, who’s going to believe the lesser charges? Only those who never would have voted for him anyway.
Contrariwise, if the dame really can produce the complete cell-phone records she claims to have — including the content of text messages and e-mails that show it really was an affair, not merely friendship — then Cain himself would surely know it. In that case, he might make loud noises and wave his hands in the air, but he would never run the risk of actually filing a lawsuit he was destined to lose. Fighting such a high-profile case and losing it would crush his reputation far flatter than raging to the skies but avoiding a court of law like an atheist shies away from a cross.
So that is the acid test of Herman Cain’s veracity and fidelity: Simpy put, if he files a charge of libel and slander in court and dares White to claim “truth” as a defense, then he is very likely innocent of the charges.
But if he fumfahs around, rattling the bars of his cage but never actually making a federal case out of it, then I will fairly conclude that he’s guilty on all counts.
As I said, I reckon we’ll know pretty soon; Cain’s lawyer, Lin Wood, has already demanded those records from White; but he hasn’t pulled the trigger yet. Now that Cain is a civilian once more, he’s going to have to either fish or get off the pot.
And then we’ll all know whether he was a man with a mission — or a man with a secret.
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…