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Chan Lowe: Because he Cain


Back at the turn of the century, I was sitting at a dinner table with a group of distinguished journalists. The Monica Lewinsky scandal was still a fresh topic of discussion, and I was struck by the way some in the group blindly minimized the significance of Clinton’s misdeeds.

Several of my companions felt that the country had overreacted to the President’s peccadilloes. “After all, it was consensual,” one said. “It certainly didn’t rise to the level of impeachment.”

I reminded my colleague that whether or not one agreed that Clinton’s behavior in the Oval Office merited disapproval, he was impeached not for doing whatever-it-was (remember, according to the Semanticist-in-Chief, it wasn’t “sexual relations”), but for lying before a grand jury.

“Yeah, well, I still think they made too much of it,” she replied. She also allowed as how she had met Clinton at a gathering once, and that he had an uncanny ability to make every woman feel like she was the only one in the room.

I relate this story because it demonstrates, I think, that people view and judge behavior selectively depending upon whether they have an emotional connection with the main actor. They don’t choose to condone it, they actually process it through a different set of filters, so that it ultimately needs no condoning. Hence, defenders of Herman Cain would rather blame the “liberal media” than hold him accountable for his acts, which would cast doubt on everything else about him, including his truthfulness and suitability to be President.

We have a legal system that strives for “equal protection under the law.” The core of it—the precedent-based code, jury trials, adversarial justice⎯is designed to offset mankind’s natural tendency to order the world based on his own emotions. One can see why it’s needed: Bias is as natural as breathing, regardless of one’s political bent.

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One has to wonder whether Kennedy would have been elected if he was placed under today’s scrutiny; or how about Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, or Grant. It’s not a surprise that we are left with vanilla candidates. Cain is not a credible candidate for President and Romney is because Romney has done less to make him “unelectable”. Decision 2012, Romney vs. Obama, will not be about selecting the best available leader but rather the least defective candidate.

No, it matters when you lie to a Grand Jury about it.

How casually you disregard the truth when a little bit of mis-characterization can seemingly gloss over the real issue.

A few questions...

Which are the acts for which Cain is supposed to be held accountable?

Were Clinton's acts with Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey & Juanita Broaddrick supposed to be consensual? Compared to the the media feeding frenzy re Cain, what kind of coverage were these stories given initially?

you are right that it was about lying to a grand jury---but only in a society wacked out about sex by a BUNCH of sexual repressed religious nutcases.,obsessed with peeping at crotches other than their own, would the issue reached a grand jury in the first place.

A question that has no business being asked does not deserve a straight answer. The media and Republican Congress were the ones who made a big deal over that whole mess.

Ron and DPB.. you're both incorrect. the issue was brought up about Slick Willie because he was brought up on criminal charges by several women who worked closely with him. There were others who refused to be placed under the microscope or to have their names sullied by James Carville's "that's what you get when you drag a twenty dollar bill through a trailer-par." line.
Do you have daughters? How would you feel if this remark was directed at them after their boss acted inappropriately toward them?

Previous commenters-what do Bill Clinton's indiscretions have to do with Herman Cain's apparent lies? Cain suddenly can't remember is he discussed these claims with a political operative or if they were settled or what the allegations were.

That's all bunk-if, as Mr. Cain asserts and implies, someone "falsely" accused him of something, he would still know damn well what the accusation was and whether it had legs. No one can go through life being as obtuse as Mr. Cain would have us believe he is. If that were the case, then his ignorance in this matter alone is a disqualifying factor. If the truth is that he lied once confronted, then we have to choose whether we think he is incompetent or dishonest. Neither is a good choice if Cain's your guy.

Making excuses for a person whose moral code doesn't have a compass doesn't make you seem loyal-it makes you seem wilfully ignorant, duplicitous, and blind, like the courtiers who saw a beautiful suit when the emporer was really naked.

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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