I can easily believe that there isn't much there there to this sexual harassment story, but there well could be. We have no idea.
So the question that bothers me is that Herman Cain and his campaign weren't better prepared for this story to come out. Politico acknowledged that they had been working on the story for over a week and had contacted the campaign. Herman Cain sells himself as a businessman who would know how to straighten up our economic morass. But shouldn't a businessman be a better leader when it comes to a mini-crisis affecting his campaign? Especially when the crisis involves his own personal history?
Why hadn't they contacted the National Restaurant Association to check on the facts that were available? Why was Herman Cain out there in national interviews saying that he was unaware of any settlement and then saying he was aware. If his story was that there was an agreement to pay a woman a termination settlement, why didn't he give that story in the first place?
Such bumbling extended the story another day and made the story about his changing stories rather than his denial of the accusation. They had a week to prepare for this story and they seemed totally unprepared. If they had come out with a clear answer and Cain's denials and explanations, I think, barring any further information, people would be willing to dismiss this as the sort of environment we live in now where women can make charges and business settle them with some relatively small award of money just to save on the legal costs and bad press. In fact, we might have had a national discussion of how absurd our sexual harassment laws have become where men have to worry about how everything they say to a woman might seem when told to lawyers.
Instead we have this lingering story that is tarnishing just what makes Cain appealing - his charm and frankness as well as his purported leadership skills.
With Republicans concerned about who will be the best opponent for Barack Obama and the expected media barrage in Obama's favor during the general election, they're looking for someone who has the chops to take on both Obama and the media. Cain has failed this first test.