Herman Cain’s presidential campaign is weathering mounting allegations of sexual harassment linked so far only to his tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association, allegations tied to tens of thousands of dollars in payouts to his accusers. Republican voters, however, are mostly dismissing the story. They’ve filled Cain’s campaign coffers with more than $2 million since the story broke and they booed the CNBC debate moderators who tried to bring up the scandal during last night’s debate in Michigan. The harassment story has been a source of off-color jokes for conservative-politics pundits like Rush Limbaugh. And in Colorado, libertarian think tank funnyman Jon Caldera couldn’t resist cracking wise on the topic in his weekly newsletter.
Caldara opens with a new Independence Institute motto: “Come for the public policy, stay for the sexual harassment.” Then he makes some office jokes.
“The Herman Cain sexual harassment accusations just hack me off. What? Do I actually have to run for president to get the women in my office to expose my proficiency in unwelcome snuggling? So far the only person to come forward and accuse me of unwanted advances is our Research Director Dave Kopel. And he’s making half that crap up.”
The Institute is holding an event this month honoring Colorado Springs Gazette conservative politics cartoonist Chuck Assay. The Institute email posts a sample of Assay peer Henry Payne‘s work for the Detroit News, apparently because it advances the sexual harassment comic thread.
On his radio show this week, Limbaugh put on an unwitting clinic in the kind of attitudes legal scholars have been lamenting for years as a hurdle to encouraging victims of sex crimes from leveling charges and testifying against attackers, attitudes that make victims feel sex-tainted and complicit. Limbaugh’s schtick concerning Cain accuser Sharon Bialek included him pronouncing her name “Buy-A-Lick” and slurping into his microphone.
He also mocked accuser Karen Kraushaar for suggesting that the growing number of Cain’s accusers should hold a joint press conference.
“What’s the big deal with the panel here?” he said. “Do they want to synchronize their menstrual periods? Why appear together?”
“I tell you, you women, why don’t you just make it official, put on some burqas?” he said defending Cain. “I’ll guaran-damn-tee you nobody’ll touch you. You put on a burqa, and everybody’ll leave you alone, if that’s what you want.”
Republican debate audiences this year cheered Texas Governor Perry for signing off on 230 state executions, they booed a gay U.S. soldier and applauded Cain for saying unemployed Americans should just get a job.