John on November 7, 2011 at 4:13 pm
I’m not a mind reader and I don’t own a time machine. Whether this actually happened the way Sharon Bialek claims it did is something I can’t know for certain. That said, my take on the press conference was that her story sounded credible:
The political part of this is probably the easiest to parse. I don’t see how Cain survives unless someone comes forward to call Sharon Bialek a liar. Bill had Hillary who was willing to back him up in a very public way. It’s not clear Mrs. Cain is up for that sort of thing.
The account of what happened is trickier. Bialek didn’t work for Cain at the time, though she was talking to him about a job. She was an attractive single woman (albeit with a boyfriend) who agreed to travel to meet with Cain privately. If her story is true, he made an unwanted and out-of-line play for her culminating in some potentially actionable groping. At this point all the folks who told us “everyone lies about sex” are suddenly very concerned about politicians who lie about sex. But their hypocrisy shouldn’t be an excuse for ours.
Cain reportedly did stop his advance when Bialek said no, but if he really said “You want a job don’t you?” he crossed a line from married man misbehaving to a pretty unpleasant abuse of power.
The rapid reaction from the Cain camp is to try and change the subject. They deny harassment with a blanket statement but I think we’re past that point now. These are some pretty specific allegations. Unfortunately, I think Cain’s responses are going to have to be just as specific if he wants to get past this.
Finally, I can’t help but remember Juanita Broaddrick. I found her statement even more credible than Sharon Bialek’s. Yet, somehow the pixels devoted to that story seemed rather sparse compared to the pixels being splashed on this one. Maybe if she’d hired Gloria Allred things would have been different.
Update: From the comments. This story confirms that Bialek did meet Cain at a recent Tea Party event. Apparently they “hugged each other backstage in a full embrace like old friends.” Then there was some sort of discussion but it’s not clear what was said.
You could read this either way. On the one hand, she did see Cain recently and talk with him. On the other hand, she still seems a little confused. Is she his friend? His enemy? But this was before the Politico story broke so maybe she hadn’t made up her mind then.
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