Romney: New Cain Allegations Are "Particularly Disturbing???


In the course of an interview with George Stephanopolous of ABC News, presidential candidate Mitt Romney was asked about the sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain, who is currently his chief rival in the GOP primary.  He described the Sharon Bialek charges as “particularly disturbing,” and found the seriousness of the charges so serious that he used the word “serious” five times in rapid succession:

“These are serious allegations, George,” said Romney in an exclusive interview with George Stephanopoulos that aired on ABC News and Yahoo.  ”And they’re going to have to be addressed seriously. I don’t have any counsel for Herman Cain or for his campaign, they have to take their own counsel on this.”

“Any time there is an accuser that comes forward with charges of this nature you recognize this is a very serious matter and it should be taken seriously,” said Romney.

“I don’t want to suppose truth or lack of truth. I just think it’s important to recognize that a number of women have come forward with concerns; this woman’s charges are particularly disturbing and they’re serious.”

Was there really any doubt the allegations were being “taken seriously?”  One assumes Romney has noticed the wall-to-wall media coverage being given to the story.  (99 stories in less than 9 days, according to NewsBusters!)

Stephanopolous asked if the charges against Cain should be “disqualifying” if true, but Romney declined to comment on that.  He didn’t challenge Stephanopolous’ framing of the issue, in which he repeated Bialek’s assertion that Cain is “unfit to be President until he tells the truth.”  It would have been nice if Romney had emphasized the importance of giving the accused a fair hearing – wouldn’t Cain and his people insist they have been “telling the truth” thus far?  But that’s probably too much to hope for.

All of the other candidates will be put in the same position as Romney and asked for their opinion of the Cain scandal, which has now achieved stable media orbit.  They will all be expected to say essentially the same thing Romney did: the charges are so serious they must be responded to, and nothing Cain has done so far qualifies as an adequate response. 

That’s one of the reasons this will be such a difficult hole for Cain to climb out of.  It would be virtually impossible for him to “prove” his innocence at this point.  Not even the most troubling revelations about his accusers would “prove” they’re lying – either by rigid logical standards, or the much more relaxed rules of the Court of Public Opinion.  His competitors in the GOP primary will be a reliable source of quotes for the media to portray Cain as perpetually on the hot seat.  They can scarcely afford to appear insufficiently outraged by the “seriousness of the charges,” even if they wanted to.

Meanwhile, it looks like one of the original Cain accusers has been identified at last, according to a story in the Daily that has been confirmed by NPR:

Karen Kraushaar, a 55-year-old former journalist and seasoned government spokeswoman who served on the front lines of the Elian Gonzalez custody battle, is a competitive equestrian and lover of golden retrievers. She has been married for more than two decades.

“She wouldn’t be the type to make false allegations,” brother-in-law Ned Kraushaar, a Georgia software consultant, told The Daily. “This happened [more than] 10 years ago. It’s not like she wanted to try and hurt the Republican Party.

Karen Kraushaar currently serves as a communications director at the Inspector General’s Office of the Treasury Department, a position she has held since last year. She did not return phone messages left by The Daily.

So it’s supposed to be inherently implausible that a former spokeswoman for the Clinton Administration, who currently works for the Obama Administration, might want to “try and hurt the Republican Party?” 

Kraushaar, who still doesn’t want to speak publicly about the Cain incident, has excellent character references.  “The woman is a consummate professional,” said a colleague from her National Restaurant Association days.  “What I saw was an extremely talented woman. A professional, knowledgeable woman and nothing more.” 

Of course, people who have known Herman Cain for a long time say the same thing about him.  Not that it seems to matter anymore, now that Bill Clinton and John Edwards are behind us, and sexual harassment is all about the “seriousness of the charges” again.