All the ingredients are here. We have a potentially powerful politician, a hopelessly flimsy accusation of sexual misconduct and a predictable media, desperate to fill broadcast hours. Was there really ever any doubt that alleged civil rights attorney Gloria Allred would get involved?
After all, whether she’s demonstrating anal sex using a baseball bat, buddying up to bereft pornstars or inserting herself into the life of Chaz Bono, she’s proven that her proper place is in front of a camera, handling issues of the utmost importance. Now she’s set her sights on Herman Cain, or more accurately, any fame, money or political influence she can bleed away from him.
The case suits her M.O. perfectly. There’s a female accuser levying a nebulous, antiquated charge against a male who holds A) wealth, B) power and C) media attention. No charge was levied when the supposed event took place, which is great news, since it makes it that much easier for the attorney to cook up a vague, yet damaging, complaint.
Once the charge is leveled, usually at a televised press conference rather than via a legal filing, she lines up interviews with anyone who will give her a few minutes to rant. Often, she won’t even bother taking her clients to court, preferring instead to do battle over the airwaves in an attempt to force settlements via the court of public opinion. It doesn’t matter if her appearances go well. If her claims are refuted, she doesn’t care. The media blitz is solely designed to put pressure on the target. If they fail to pay out, Allred appears in front of every imaginable camera, assailing her victim until such time as her client receives a check, reality show or both.
Think of it as a sort of high-tech, FCC-approved blackmail.
Normally, she chooses a target that is already held in public contempt, so the tactic has a tendency to work. With Herman Cain, however, she may have missed the mark — badly.
Cain is generally well-liked. He has none of the public image problems that usually plague Allred defendants. Since the news of two sexual harassment settlements was first released, his numbers — and fundraising — have gone up, not down. It’s the first sign that he may be able to weather a storm that has quickly consumed others. Allred’s usual stuff may not be working.
A more important problem is that Cain, unlike Tiger Woods and Eliot Spitzer, has nothing to gain from a payoff. Both Woods and Spitzer needed to sweep the story under the rug in order to get their careers back on track. That won’t work for Cain, and it’s not likely something he wants to do.
According to the accuser’s lawyers, the mid-90s settlements offered by the National Restaurant Association were handled without Cain’s direct involvement. He personally never signed off on any payment. To the contrary, he has maintained his innocence to this day, and despite their willingness to settle, NRA investigations at the time seem to back him up.
If he now settles with Allred, Cain will have admitted guilt, and that really will be the end of his campaign. So it’s important, both politically and personally, that he continue to fight and force Allred to come up with some proof of her claims. Since that’s not usually her style, the matter will likely devolve into a “he said, she said” fight that Allred won’t be able to win.
Allred’s practice looks less like a legal endeavor, and more like a fly-by-night PR firm for get-rich-quick schemers and aspiring reality show stars. Her clients, most of whom occupy the lowest rung on the credibility ladder, are mostly failures, desperate to latch on to, and steal, success and lucre from others.
Herman Cain needs to keep in mind that Allred’s methods almost always require capitulation to succeed. Assuming there’s no stained dress waiting in the wings, he should stand and fight.
It’s time to pour some salt on the leeches.
Robert Laurie is a Michigan-based conservative columnist and freelance writer. He also runs a daily political commentary blog at RobertLaurie.net.