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Post hoc justification, Cain edition

Post hoc justification, Cain edition

Via The Hill, and about a thousand other outlets:

Herman Cain told members of his staff that he is “reassessing” his decision to remain in the race for the Republican presidential nomination following new allegations that he conducted a 13-year-long affair with an Atlanta businesswoman.

“Cain told senior staff this morning that he is “reassessing” whether to stay in race. Will make final decision soon,” Robert Costa, a reporter for the National Review, tweeted Tuesday.

That report was then confirmed by campaign manager Mark Block to ABC News.

National Review has the transcript of the call.

This will all be used to justify Politico’s original reporting, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  The issue never was whether the settlements or allegations of sexual harassment were fair game; I took the position at the very beginning that they were legitimate vetting issues but that the public was entitled to facts as to the allegations, not just Politico’s characterization.

Early on I also suggested that what Politico really was doing was trying to smoke out other accusers, and that in fact was the effect.  We’ll never know the truth of what happened, and for most of the accusers we don’t even know their names or what the accusations were, but it worked.

Is it bad that it worked?  Well, the result is that a candidate who may (I repeated “may” not “does”) have skeletons in the closet likely will be forced from the race.  That’s not bad.

But next time the broad characterizations, anonymous sources, and media fishing expedition may be directed at a Republican candidate who does not have skeletons in the closet, it just will be made to look like he does.

Update:  Shortly after this post, Jim Vandehei posted his justification of Politico’s reporting.  It’s pretty much what you would expect.  He uses the volume of complaints — most of which he fails to acknowledge remain anonymous and unspecified to the public — to justify the use of anonymous and unspecified accusations.  Those which were specified had nothing to do with Politico’s reporting.

Politico’s chicanery is exemplified in this passage:

He needs voters to believe that Karen Kraushaar is a liar, too — that she was so  sensitive or so vindictive that she marched into the NRA’s human resources  department in 1999 to file a bogus sexual harassment complaint against Cain,  then her boss. Cain says the only thing he recalls ever saying to her was that  she was the same height as his wife.

In fact, Kraushaar never has revealed what her accusations were despite being released from a confidentiality agreement, and the public never has seen a shred of evidence to support the unknown accusations.  Yet Vandehei acts as if Herman Cain needs people to disbelieve Kraushaar; how can we believe or disbelieve that which we don’t even know?

We are so far down the rabbit hole that there isn’t even any light.

And, good post at Neo-Neocon, Cain and the women: what constitutes enough proof?

Shouldn’t we (or reporters) demand somethingelse—besides a couple of friendly but non-intimate inscriptions in a book, which she alleges Cain made?  A compromising note would do; it’s not necessary to have a semen-stained blue dress. Did White not save an especially tender text message or voicemail recording, as lovers often do?  Were there no sweet-nothing emails?

And who was sending most of those 61 calls or text messages that Smith’s records provided: Smith herself, or Cain?


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its even worse if you take the position ( playing devils advocate here ) that he didn’t have the skeletons, and this process was used to kill off a candidate by the media.
I’m sure he is scared for his family, the stalking and stuff has to be getting old.

I hope he hangs in there as long as possible. Somebody is going to come under attack by the media mob, so having him continue to take fire is good in the long run.

workingclass artist | November 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm

So I’ll ask the question again…Is Herman Cain going to blame this on Gov. Perry?

I think it speaks to character. When a flailing candidate blames another contender for their failing as both Cain and Bachmann have done it speaks to both their character & their political abilities. Cain has done this to himself and was already slipping in the polls because of his gaffes and his campaign. No amount emergency money bombs or Talk Radio propping was going to change that.

    Naw… There’s plenty of other stuff to blame on Perry.

    As a TX resident, he failed to get mandatory E-Verify passed long with a failure to punish sanctuary cities and of course he still champions the TX Dream Act which was passed with his support in 2001.

    Add to that the new “fees” in lieu of tax increases, impending public pension problems and his live of lobbyists such as the toll road/construction gang not to mention floating bonds with junk status to finance them.

    America will do well without Rick Perry and so could Texas…

      workingclass artist in reply to GrumpyOne. | November 29, 2011 at 6:35 pm

      Gee Grumpyone how many times can Perry keep calling the legislature into session…The Governor tried and Strauss tabled it to appease his biggest donor in Houston thinking that if Dewhurst & Perry are in DC he could take the fall out….Sheeesh!

      They will come up again in the next session & you know it….so will the instate tuition bill which is up for review.

workingclass artist | November 29, 2011 at 12:53 pm

When Cain said he’d see how this affects his family on CNN yesterday it was clear he would drop out…This story probably has something to it.

What candidate who claims to be the paragon of Baptist family values has regular contact for years with a female friend he is helping financially who neither works for him or has met his wife?

Yeah…it looks that bad & that stupid.

*I think it will have an adverse effect on Ol’Newt as well because it will remind voters they don’t want that ugly stuff brought up either *

“…nothing could be further from the truth….”???

Oh, come on. I too was skeptical about the initial Politico report, based as it was on sources that were not only anonymous but second hand.

However, we learned soon enough that four women had claimed that Cain sexually harassed them. We learned the identities of two of them, one of whom publicly confirmed the outlines of the complaint she had made and the other of whom provided sordid details.

As a result, no one is surprised that yet another has come forward, this time to say they had an extramarital affair.

Cain continues adamantly to deny everything — but we all know that he has not a shred of credibility.

If I were you, Professor, I would be grateful to Politico for breaking this story or smoking it out or however you want to characterize it, so that a candidate who was at one point leading in national polls of GOP voters didn’t blow up in everyone’s face much later when it would have been far more damaging.

    William A. Jacobson in reply to JEBurke. | November 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Bad facts make bad law, and this makes very bad journalism. When we start taking the media at its word we are in big trouble. Remember the story about McCain having an affair? We could have just folded the tent and expressed relief that whoever broke the McCain story (was it NYT?) saved us. When someone comes out of the woodwork with a story about Romney (whether sexual, business, or otherwise), I’ll insist that it not be anonymous, and that the media provide us with facts not just its characterizations. I suppose you’ll just be content with anonymous sources and facts we are not allowed to know? The relief with which some people are greeting the Cain story is very short sighted.

      its as if some WANT it to be true and will facilitate it however they can.
      I don’t know if he’s innocent or not, but I don’t assume he’s guilty as many supposed conservatives are.

      Facts? They don’t need no stinkin’ facts. Remember “Fake but accurate”? This story still tastes like TANG.

      No, I will not be content with anonymous sources and characterizations. As I said above, like you, I was skeptical of the original Politico story. But even after the sources accusing Cain ceased to be anonymous and, indeed, one held a press conference while another confirmed in her own name that Cain had harassed her, you continued to act as if they were still anonymous. Alternatively, you began to cast doubt on the accusers credibility and demand more details.

      The Times story about McCain collapsed before the ink was dry beause it was all air. There were no accusers, no complaints filed, no financial settlements reached, no women holding press conferences and no mistresses announcing affairs.

      It is ludicrous to ignore the glaringly obvious fact that Cain has been busted.

        William A. Jacobson in reply to JEBurke. | November 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm

        What were Kraushaar’s allegations? What did Cain do to her, allegedly? What about the 13-year affair, it may be true but what hotels did she travel to to meet him, who saw them, certainly this could not have been a total secret for 13 years. He may be guilty of everything, or none of it, or just some of it. But we deserve better than the paucity of details we’ve been given. He said, she said normally is resolved by extrinsic evidence which points to one or the other as being true (e.g., hotel receipts, witnesses, etc.). Is it too much for a reporter actually to ask a meaningful question of an accuser? And, of course, I say this as someone who never has been a Cain supporter and whose preferred candidate probably will benefit by Cain dropping out.

          VetHusbandFather in reply to William A. Jacobson. | November 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm

          Prof Jacobson is dead on here. It’s the complete lack of evidence that makes this all so questionable. I think the Neo-neocon update you linked points out something really startling: Why was FOX Atlanta happy with the explanation of 61 texts or calls either to or from Cain? Were those reporters sleeping? Why didn’t they ask for more details: How many texts? How many calls? How long were the calls? How many originated with Cain and how many from his accuser? If the records were in her hand wouldn’t she be willing to show that information? Unless some shred of easily accessible evidence comes up this is gonna fizzle like the sexual harassment accusations. Unfortunately It’s starting to look like unproven accusations can be just as effective as an actual scandal.

          As I have pointed out elsewhere in your comments, among other places, this is not a courtroom, Cain is not in the dock draped in a defendant’s due process rights, and we are not a jury.

          In this “court of public opinion,” most of us regard what one of the two people in a sex affair say about it as pretty good proof all by itself. What you keep saying is that the women cannot be believed without corroborating evidence sufficient to overcome your desire to believe Cain, despite his crumbling credibility.

          So here’s a little test. If a woman came forward tomorrow who said she had an extramarital affair with then-Senator Obama while he was running for President (in the style of Clinton and Edwards), would you demand corroborating testimony?

          For that matter, would you have believed Monica Lewinsky if she had blown the whistle on Clinton — or would you have waited for a Linda Tripp to come along?

          William A. Jacobson in reply to William A. Jacobson. | November 29, 2011 at 9:44 pm

          “most of us regard what one of the two people in a sex affair say about it as pretty good proof all by itself.” You’ve tied yourself in a knot. One of the two people denies it completely. So why don’t you believe that person? It has nothing to do with “due process” rights but whether we allow others to determine our candidates, or whether we reach our own reasoned conclusion based on evidence and facts.

It could have an effect on Newt, but Newt has never pretended to be something he’s not. He’s fully admitted his affairs. He openly says if you can’t support him because of them he understands. You know what you’re getting with him. So I don’t know if it will matter that much. Everyone knows about Newt and he’s still done as well as he has.

As for the media going after Cain, I don’t buy it. The media and the dems would have loved for Cain to be the nominee. Loved it. There’s no reason for them to knock him out this early. The smart play would be to hold all this stuff back and then release it next summer/fall once he’s the nominee and then they’d cruise to victory.

Same, btw, for Romney. He’d have loved for Cain to be the guy standing come January.

Now, Cain is out, and they both have to face a much tougher opponent.

Cain did this to himself. He knew about all this from the beginning and thought he could hide it. The smart thing to do would have been to announce it all up front and get it out of the way. Tell his staff about all of it. He knew he had these settlements from the NRA. He knew about Ms White. Did he think they’d remain under wraps?

The American people will forgive you. If Cain came out today and came clean, admitted everything and asked forgiveness, I think he’d be ok. But I don’t think he will.

Who doe shis departure benefit? Possibly Gingrich. Does it open the door for a new candidate to enter the field? You Betcha.

    He knew he had these settlements from the NRA. He knew about Ms White. Did he think they’d remain under wraps?

    You’re begging the question; assuming facts not in evidence. What did he know about Ms White? If there really was an affair, then obviously he knew about it; but if there wasn’t, how was he supposed to know that she would claim there was?

    And no, he didn’t know about the NRA settlements. He didn’t even know about one of the claims, since it was filed after he had left, let alone the settlement. The other one he knew had been filed, and that it had gone away for nuisance money, but he’d have no reason to know much more than that.

Alleged mistress’s background:

“…WAGA reporters also found records showing she has been hit with several eviction notices in DeKalb County, Ga., over the past six years.
She filed for bankruptcy 23 years ago, the station reported. In 2001, she also filed a sexual harassment suit, which was later settled, according to the station.
Her former business partner, Kimberly Vay, once sued her and accused her of stalking, the station reported….”


Not that it matters anymore. The best Cain can do for the cause now is to stick around and draw the left’s fire away from the two remaining candidates. Is it too late to pray for another dark horse candidate to emerge?

“Right on, brother,” [Juan] Williams said. He continued, “West, Tavis Smiley, those guys are threatened by the success of Herman Cain.” Williams added that Smiley and West were “the same people who criticized President Obama” and said that he believed Cain could actually win a large percentage of the black conservative vote. “…when Herman Cain says they can win a third of the black vote, that blows them out…It is possible that a man from the south with real economic experience…a gospel singer, church-goer, would appeal to black social conservatives. And there are a ton of black social conservatives.”

… so this was inevitable.

As with Bill Clinton and John Edwards, where there is smoke, there is fire. And I agree with the above, it is far better to have gotten this out of the way early. You wonder what Cain was thinking getting in to the race.

Perhaps as was said, Cain wanted to sell a book and gain some national notoriety to launch a big radio show. Cain never thought things would go this far or get this nasty.

    dmacleo in reply to Malonth. | November 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    and where there is fire there is, often enough, arsonists involved.
    I don’t know if thats the case, but we (as a group) are acting just like a mob here.
    what if he is innocent and people now see exactly how easy it is to derail a popular candidate? that bothers me.

    Milhouse in reply to Malonth. | November 30, 2011 at 3:11 am

    As with John McCain and with Sarah Palin, when there’s smoke there’s often a smoke machine and nothing more.

workingclass artist | November 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

OY! The Irony….

“It is something that Mr. Cain will have to settle with the country and talk to the country about,” Gingrich told CNN’s John King, as relayed by POLITICO’s Juana Summers. “It is sad to see that level of pain brought out, but I think he’ll have to deal with it.”

Read more:

Ummm…When is Newt gonna have that straightup conversation with the country?

From what I remember he quit the speakership amidst his own “Monica/Callista” affair and after he married her he’s all different now cause she holds a tight leash or something? Redemption…it’s what’s for breakfast.

Maybe I’m a bit too cynical but being president is more than being a good debater…The voters have to like you & your proposals. The voters have to believe you can carry them through and Newt’s history as speaker is a mixed one ending with a loss of seats, public tantrums,a party coup, an affair with a congressional aide ending his 2nd marriage and Newt quitting both his leadership roll and his congressional seat.

After the tumult of the current occupant in the White House nobody wants anymore DRAMA like that which comes with Newt whether it be personal or the muddy waters of his financial gains through his DC ties after office.

Can someone explain why a self confessed mistress is trying to accomplish here? She slept with some Woman’s husband, and now wants to destroy her supposed adulterer’s career for what reason? did he scorn her or is this s pay day scam?

I don’t remember the press being so diligent with Clinton’s numerous adulteries.

    Assuming her charges are true (which I think is more likely than not), I’d say that she wants to become yesterday’s news.

    workingclass artist in reply to imfine. | November 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    According to the mistress the affair ended 8 months ago & her story had been leaked to the media. She saw how the media was treating the other women and decided to control the narrative herself as not a victim but admitting it.

    If she had been a spurned woman or a stalker hen why is Cain’s phone# still accessible to her? Why did Cain return the call placed by the reporter from her phone?
    Ginger White probably has more stuff to back her claim up which is why Cain is laying the groundwork for backing out of the race.

    If there as nothing to her claim wouldn’t Cain’s lawyer go after her in the first statement which was a strange statement to release in the media.

    Valerie in reply to imfine. | November 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Sick puppy.

Jim Vandehei would do well to adopt the ethics of the small circulation newspapers of this country: they consider it unethical to publish accusations of private misbehavior against public people, if the source is anonymous.

The Washington Post has a long history of attempting to spike stories that are negative for Democrats, including private scandals (Edwards), public slander (Kerry, Swift Boat Veterans) or public funding, past associations, voter fraud (Barack Obama). At the same time, they have been quick to snap up anything negative about Republicans, and repeat them.

So, Mr. Vandehei moved to Politico. Nothing’s changed.

workingclass artist | November 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Lots of Cain’s righteous defenders have egg on face this morning.


Oh, gosh, I HAVE to do this, Professor, it is just a pet peeve of mine! With apologies!

This will all be used to justify Politico’s original reporting, but nothing could be farther from the truth

FARTHER is a measurable distance….farther south, there will be rain.
FURTHER is an immeasurable distance…….nothing could be further from the truth.

: )

Cain and his supporters pretty much trapped him into this. When he joined the race, he never thought he’d have a shot. He’d stay in for a while, gain some national credibility and exposure, sell some more books, and perhaps set the stage for a run at the Senate. Its why he never bothered to read up on the issues, and why he always looked like he was winging it. He was. He never intended to be a serious enough candidate for the skeletons to start coming out. Then, Perry blew himself up in a debate and all of a sudden, Cain finds himself the frontrunner. He had to of known what was coming, but there is really no graceful way to bow out when you’re at/near the top of the polls.

I kind of like the guy, though I think he’s woefully uninformed on some very critical issues. Nor am I wild about the VAT in 9-9-9. But I didn’t want him to blow up this way. Still, in the long run, we’re better off that this came out now as opposed to later. We can complain about the press’ behavior, which, as always, has been deplorable. But guys, they aren’t ever going to give Republicans a fair shake, so in the end its just so much raging at the wind. Its the rules of the field our guys have to play on. And to a degree, I’m not sure our candidates don’t end up so much the stronger for it. The chaff is more thoroughly winnowed from our field than the Dems.

Second look Perry? You know you want to.

I wonder if this explains Cain’s response to the harassment charges. This was the story he was afraid of. The harassment claims caught him off guard.

But here’s where VanderHei may not want to go:

He also need voters to believe it’s possible POLITICO, and NBC, and then the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and many other media outlets, heard about her complaint – and decided to conspire against the GOP frontrunner by running stories about it.

As Evan Thomas and Marc Ambinder have admitted the media *IS* in the tank for the Democrats. VanderHei’s disbelief at such a perception is disingenuous.

“He [Jim VandeHei] uses the volume of complaints… to justify the use of anonymous and unspecified accusations.”

A thousand cups of weak tea collected into a vat remains just as weak. This guy is a hack and a not very bright one.

I jumped on the Cain train after Gov. Palin decided against running. The allegations remain unsubstantiated and still unsupported by actual facts.

Herman has lost his mojo largely due to his lack of basic facts about geopolitics and domestic issues of importance, not because if these dramatic accusations.

As for the women coming forward in making these accusations, I wonder how many more need to come forward before Herman meets the Bill Clinton threshold? Presumably, at such a time, Herman would be deemed presidential just as Bill Clinton was.

It’s clear now that the Politico has disqualified itself as a serious news outlet. Even the Columbia Journalism Review has called them out for its yellow journalism.

In the aftermath of the crazed attacks on Gov. Palin, the media has chosen to attack Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt, and (since his Obama ad) Mitt Romney.

I know I’m not alone in being frustrated with liberal journalists trying to have a role in selecting GOP candidates.

If there are no names given, no incidents explained and the accusers’ pasts are not divulged as to loyality, etc. to other parties, then there is nothing there. People are quick to bash others for preceived wrongs. That’s human nature. This whole fiasco has been nothing but a gossip session with no proof, just word of mouth accusations spoken in the hope something will stick. It is puzzling that all accusations are from the NRA and no where else and the NRA has close ties with bama and the dim party. Also, all these accusations occurred in Chicago, obamaland. It’s really too bad because this will only make these jackals go even further with our other candidates. Cain has never been my candidate or even on the table but I abhor these tactics and can only hope that Politico and their ilk will get their just desserts sometime in the future.


I haven’t forgotten how the media brought down two popular republican presidents with their constant hammering of false facts. Nixon was maybe not a choir boy but I doubt he was the devil incarnate the media made him out to be. And W was doing the best he knew how to steer this country in the right direction…total security for its’ citizens. The media totally destroyed them both. One who was forced to resign and the other who was publicly humiliated at an inauuration by trashy members of the winning party. I despise the media and hope daily for their demise. It would be better to have no media than the one we have…full of liars and manipulators.

    dmacleo in reply to BarbaraS. | November 29, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    I’ll admit to not being a fan of the biden patriot act (his OK city plans were the basis) bush signed.
    but bush at least tried to do right.

workingclass artist | November 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Primaries…they get ugly and there it is.

It is a sad day and a damning indictment of this country when NOTHING BUT accusations, innuendo and the howling of the media is enough to cause the departure of a candidate from a Presidential race. Perhaps he’s guilty, I don’t know and we may never know. What I do know is that in future, good men and women will decide that it’s not worth the torture that will descend upon them if they try and serve. We will pay from now on for what is happening here. I’m ashamed of us.

It is the congruency of Herman Cain’s accusers which should cause all to question their claims. All of them have filed for bankruptcy, been evicted from a home and claimed sexual harassment. All of the alleged improprieties stem from the narrow two-year range of his life in which he was affiliated with the NRA. Until Ms White came forward none of them had any actual evidence to present to support their claims and I consider her cell phone records to be weak due to the possibility of data manipulation.

The fact that Cain returned a call from White’s cell phone makes me more inclined, not less, to believe his denials. He knew there was another bombshell coming. Wouldn’t he have been wary of calling someone back who might be holding the detonator?

What we have is a string of unsupported accusations foisted on people who seem to be all too willing to believe the worst of anyone. Witness these comments here:

“we all know that he has not a shred of credibility.”

“He knew about all this from the beginning and thought he could hide it.”

“where there is smoke, there is fire.”

“we’re better off that this came out now”

And my personal favorite: “Lots of Cain’s righteous defenders have egg on face this morning.” That’s what Cain’s detractors are doing…throwing eggs and stones and rotten tomatoes. Far from wiping the egg off my face I am even more resolved to stand for Herman Cain in the Iowa caucuses, if only to spit in the face of the prurient media. Give me one shred of evidence that these claims are true and I will reconsider. I haven’t seen that yet.

As it stands at this moment a good man is being removed from our consideration for no reason other than the fact that some women said bad things about him. JohnInFlorida is right. That’s shameful.

In this “court of public opinion,” most of us regard what one of the two people in a sex affair say about it as pretty good proof all by itself.

Really? So if I were to claim that you and I have had an affair, you think people would believe me?