Ken Connor

Where was this righteous indignation, one wonders, when Bill Clinton was being accused right and left of much worse sexual offenses while governor and president, when he was committing adultery in the Oval Office and subsequently obstructing justice and committing perjury? Back then the media had no problem extending the charity of presumed innocence. After all, the women who accused Slick Willy clearly weren't credible, and even if they were, it really wasn't America's business what happened behind closed doors. Only uptight, puritanical conservatives get their dander up about such things, after all. Progressive, open minded Americans understand that a person's private conduct and character really have no bearing on their ability to lead. This is true, of course, unless the accused happens to be a Republican.

The voting public should hold themselves to a higher standard and refrain from judgment in this matter until the full facts are fully known. Very soon Republicans will have the weighty responsibility of deciding who will represent their party in the contest to render Barack Obama a one-term president. This decision should be based on who they feel is the man or woman best suited for this not inconsequential task. This means separating the factual wheat from the hearsay chaff, focusing on the real issues, and not becoming distracted by politics as usual.

Mr. Cain, for his part, must drop his defensive, dismissive posture and address these allegations head-on. Assuming he has truly nothing to hide or be ashamed of, he should come clean about exactly what happened. This will require more than blanket denials. He is, after all, asking the American people to make him the next President of the United States, and like it or not when he threw his hat in the ring, he threw his privacy out the window.

Up until now, Mr. Cain has engendered the admiration of the American people precisely because he has been plain spoken and shown an aversion for the artificial political correctness that pervades so much of American civic discourse. He's proven that he has the resilience to survive this ordeal and continue to build support, but only if he stays true to form and addresses this issue with the same kind of straight talk that has characterized the rest of his campaign.

This is only the first of many political challenges that lie ahead for Herman Cain. Only time will tell whether he has the mettle to withstand the scrutiny front runners inevitably undergo.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.