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article imageOp-Ed: Do conservative women hold cards for Cain ticket?

By Sadiq Green     Nov 15, 2011 in Politics
GOP Presidential Candidate Herman Cain was riding high in the polls even after sexual harassment allegations surfaced. What will now be determined is how much the allegations will affect conservative women’s support for Cain in the primaries.
Polls out this week show that the back-and-forth over the harassment allegations has begun to put a dent in Cain’s support among Republican women voters. In a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 44 percent of Americans say they have unfavorable impressions of Cain, up from 27 percent in mid-October, before the allegations against him became public. In addition, most Republicans now consider the accusations to be a serious matter, a switch from a Post-ABC poll taken just after they were reported. Fully 74 percent of Republican women call the allegations serious, up from 39 percent in early November.
Herman Cain’s support was largely welcomed by conservatives, eager to find an alternative to candidate Mitt Romney. And even after sexual harassment allegations surfaced, his ratings saw little change. Since the allegations surfaced there seemed to be a divide between conservative women regarding the veracity of the claims. On one side pushed back on the accusations claiming they were a liberal smear campaign. The other side expressed sympathy for the women who came forward. Yet what was most telling was that women on either side actually condemned Cain.
Perhaps the most vocal conservative woman on the first side is Ann Coulter, who compared Cain to Supreme Court Justice Clarence like Thomas, stating:
"Liberals detest, detest, detest conservative blacks. This is now the second time a conservative black has had outrageous and what appear to be false allegations leveled against him."
Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham perhaps went a step further questioning why the women did not want to be named.
“We have seen this movie before and we know how it ends. It always ends up being an employee who can’t perform or who under-performs and is looking for a little green. How much money did it take for you to swallow your principles?
New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser offered this assessment of the Cain allegations.
“Gold diggers -- unite!....Sharon Bialek is 50, out of work and, according to one who knows her, she’s a smooth operator living way above her means. From the look of her heavily painted face, she’s also soon to be in acute need of a new tub of eyeliner.”
What is troubling is the extent to which Cain’s female defenders are willing to go to discredit his accusers, is the fact that now the whole doctrine of sexual harassment is totally acceptable to them. They have zealously taken things to another level by not just maligning his accusers or their intentions - which is totally acceptable - but by systematically saying there’s never a legitimate sexual harassment allegation, as if the entire premise is just a racket for plaintiff lawyers and greedy women who can’t get rich the normal way. Essentially these conservative women are saying there is no such thing as sexual harassment. That is a very troubling and scary thing to me as a journalist, a father of a teenage daughter, the son of a working mother, grandson of a retired grandmother and the brother of working sisters.
Even more troubling is seeing an entire doctrine discredited and dismissed, as though there has never been and never will be a legitimate complaint that a man harassed a woman. Is this what the American political discourse has come to? Perhaps a bit comforting is that as the allegations drag on and more accusers come out publicly, more conservative women seem to be moving from the first side over to the second. Penny Nance, President and CEO of Concerned Women for America, emailed The Christian Post saying that she found Bialek’s accusations “shocking” and is calling on Cain to address the allegations head on.
“Hearing that there is a growing number of women who have accused Mr. Cain of inappropriate behavior give me pause. Ms. Bialek appeared credible and I was very disturbed by her characterization of what happened. Whoever Republican primary voters choose as president should be a man or woman of good moral character. We said when Bill Clinton was president that character counts and we still believe that." – Penny Nance, Concerned Women for America
Jennifer DeJournett, president of Voices of Conservative Women, is concerned - as I am - about how the media’s portrayal of the female accusers affects women who have been sexually harassed. She told The Christian Post:
“I do not enjoy the media’s attacks on women who publicly come out challenging their alleged harassers. We can have a healthy skepticism on things without undermining someone’s character. Many women don’t report it [sexual harassment] because they are afraid they are going to get attacked. They [The media is playing] into the fear that women have in general if they have been a victim, and that is, that the moment you say something your character is going to be maligned.”
The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll reveals that people’s negative opinion of Cain has risen in light of these allegations from 18 percent in October to 35 percent. Respectively, among Republican primary voters, the percentage has risen from 6 percent to 19 percent.
This latest week on the Cain campaign trail began with defending her husband publicly on Fox News Monday night. Mrs. Cain who has previously steered clear of the spotlight, strongly vouched for him, saying to Greta Van Sustern that: “I’m thinking he would have to have a split personality to do the things that were said.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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