Herman Cain is “reassessing” his presidential campaign, and whether he will remain in it, after a woman he identified as a long-time friend said they had a long-term affair. He should. As a Republican, he’s pretty much dead in the water (assuming that he wasn’t already).
But what I find more interesting is the statement that Cain’s lawyer sent to the Atlanta TV station breaking the affair allegations today:
Mr. Cain has been informed today that your television station plans to broadcast a story this evening in which a female will make an accusation that she engaged in a 13-year long physical relationship with Mr. Cain. 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. The public’s right to know and the media’s right to report has boundaries and most certainly those boundaries end outside of one’s bedroom door.
Mr. Cain has alerted his wife to this new accusation and discussed it with her. He has no obligation to discuss these types of accusations publicly with the media and he will not do so even if his principled position is viewed unfavorably by members of the media.”
Obviously, Cain is not a student of American politics. Politicians’ affairs matter. Even when between consenting adults, they are more than just a prurient interest to the media and public. Just ask Bill Clinton. Or John Edwards.
I think that this is especially true for Republican politicians because of the significant portion of the base that is made of the so-called “values voters.” But, even more broadly, a politician having an extramarital affair—let’s just call it what it is: adultery—says something about the politician’s trustworthiness. It is within the public’s right to know, as are most elements of a political candidate’s life these days, and if Cain didn’t want it coming out, he never should have thrown his hat in the ring.