The Corner

A Question for Team Cain

Let me put this another way:

Let’s say that you were once the subject of a sexual-harassment complaint (or two). Let’s not only posit your innocence, but posit your pristine innocence. Let us posit that you never even met the parties in question, that you refused to even consider a settlement, and that, having been refused, the parties in question had a surge of conscience and submitted to you a statement in writing, legally notarized, that the whole thing had been a fraud from day one, and in fact you had been in church at the time of the alleged incident, meditating with two deep divines, from whom you have sworn affidavits. You could not possibly have come out of the situation looking any better.

If you are running for president of the United States and have a sexual-harassment complaint or two in your background — no matter how specious — what possible excuse can you have for not knowing how those complaints were resolved, well before you announce that you are running for president? Especially if the resolution reflected well on you? How can you possibly justify your not being in command of basic facts about your own career — the career that is the centerpiece of your campaign?

Let’s say you’re not even running for president. Let’s say you’re interviewing for a job as CEO of IBM. You go to meet with IBM’s board. IBM’s general counsel says, “You know, we’re really proactive on workplace standards here. Have you ever been the subject of a sexual-harassment complaint? And, if so, how was that handled?” If you could not quite answer that question, how much confidence would you inspire in the board?

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