I'm sure readers are by now familiar with the allegation, published today by Politico, that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has been 'accused by two women of inappropriate behavior'.
I have no axe to grind in this argument. I'm not a supporter of Mr. Cain, but neither am I opposed to him - I'm neutral. (For that matter, I distrust both the Republican and Democratic parties equally!) I have nothing against Politico, which I've read for years, and have (until now) regarded as a useful source, albeit somewhat biased (as are most news sources, one way or the other). Nevertheless, one thing jumps right out at me about Politico's report, and that is the quite extraordinary vagueness of its complaints, and the apparent refusal by its authors to go into more specific detail. Real Clear Politics reported today:
Politico reporter Jonathan Martin ... told MSNBC this morning that he just isn't "going to get into the details" of what Cain allegedly said, did or "gestured." Martin cites an incident that may or may not have happened where Cain may or may not have invited a woman up to his hotel room.
. . .
"We're just not going to get into the details of exactly what happened with these women beside what's in the story."
There's more at the link.
Frankly, I find this incredible - as in, beyond belief! If Politico is alleging something this serious about someone who's running for the office of President of the United States, they'd better 'get into the details' - and very specifically, too! If they don't, their report comes across as just another smear job, a deliberate attempt to derail Mr. Cain's candidacy by ruining his reputation. Vague accusations without a great deal of supporting information - not to mention concrete evidence backing up the accusations - are simply not good enough.
What are we supposed to do, believe Politico's allegations because of their source? What makes Politico any more trustworthy than Mr. Cain in this regard? They're going to have to do better than this . . . or they might just destroy their own trustworthiness and reputation, never mind Mr. Cain's!
There may or may not be some truth to Politico's allegations; but the way in which they've handled their reporting so far is ludicrous. As a reasonably intelligent, reasonably well-informed observer, I want a whole lot less vagueness and a whole lot more facts before I'm willing to concede that they may have a point. I find their approach ridiculously unprofessional - not to mention patronizing to us, the electorate. Right now, in the absence of any more convincing information, I can only compare their report to the attacks launched against Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings. Those attacks failed, despite persistent, even vitriolic attempts to smear his name. If there is no basis to Politico's allegations, one hopes their attack will also fail. Certainly, they've got a long way to go before their report can be accepted as believable.