Cain’s Sexual Harassment Denials are Falsifiable—and Fatal

How you look at things.
Nov. 9 2011 8:51 AM

Cain of Denial

Herman Cain’s press conference about his sexual harassment accusers is a road map to his destruction.

(Continued from Page 1)

Nope. Kraushaar tells CNN that the incident Cain described was “so innocuous it wasn't even a part of my complaint." She says the truly inappropriate incident, reported in the complaint, occurred in her office, not Cain’s. Thanks to his denials, we’re certain to hear and read more about it.

On Fox News, Cain tried to explain Kraushaar’s departure from the NRA by claiming that her job “performance, it had been told to me by her boss, was not up to par.” That, too, can be checked. Kraushaar’s boss at her next job tells CNN that Kraushaar was “the utmost professional, one of the hardest working individuals I have ever known.”

In an Oct. 31 appearance at the National Press Club, Cain said he was unaware of any settlement of harassment allegations against him. Then he acknowledged that he had been told of an agreement. But two days later, he continued to insist that in his 40-year business career, “that was the only instance of accused sexual abuse—sexual harassment, the only one.” Now we know that at least two such accusations were settled for a combined $80,000, far more than Cain suggested. And a former employee of the United States Agency for International Development tells the Washington Examiner that three years after Cain left the NRA, he tried to get dinner dates with two women after a speech overseas. The stories just keep coming.


At his press conference, Cain said the allegations against him were uncorroborated. But former NRA pollster Chris Wilson has told an Oklahoma radio station, “I was around a couple of times when this happened.” Wilson referred to an incident “at a restaurant in Crystal City” in northern Virginia. According to Wilson, “many people were aware of what took place” there.

Week after week, Cain has misrepresented his past. He denied having said that families, not politicians, should make abortion decisions. He denied having said he would exclude Muslims from his cabinet. He denied having opposed an audit of the Federal Reserve. He dismissed his advocacy of an electrified border fence as a joke, then said he was serious about it. The public record falsified all of these denials. When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Cain what he’d do if “al-Qaida or some other terrorist group” demanded that he “free everyone at Guantanamo Bay, several hundred prisoners” in exchange for a U.S. soldier, Cain replied: "I could see myself authorizing that kind of transfer.” Hours later, Cain said of Blitzer: "I don't recall him saying that it was al-Qaida-related.”

For all of this, Cain has gone unpunished. His rise in the polls has given him the illusion that he can go on making false and falsifiable statements, even when the question is sexual harassment. He’s about to find out the hard way that he can’t.

Like Slate on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. William Saletan's latest short takes on the news, via Twitter:

Latest Twitter Updates
    Follow William Saletan on Twitter.




    The Self-Made Man

    The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

    The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

    Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

    Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

    The Strange History of Wives Gazing at Their Husbands in Political Ads


    See Me

    Transparent is the fall’s only great new show.


    Lena Dunham, the Book

    More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

    Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

    Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

    The XX Factor
    Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
    Sept. 30 2014 12:04 PM John Hodgman on Why He Wore a Blue Dress to Impersonate Ayn Rand
      News & Politics
    Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful.
    Building a Better Workplace
    Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
    Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
      Double X
    The XX Factor
    Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
      Slate Plus
    Slate Picks
    Sept. 30 2014 11:42 AM Listen to Our September Music Roundup Hot tracks from a cooler month, exclusively for Slate Plus members.
    Brow Beat
    Sept. 30 2014 2:56 PM How Faithful Is David Fincher’s Gone Girl?
    Future Tense
    Sept. 30 2014 2:38 PM Scientists Use Electrical Impulses to Help Paralyzed Rats Walk Again
      Health & Science
    Bad Astronomy
    Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
    Sports Nut
    Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.