This week Rush Limbaugh explained that the root of Herman Cain’s sexual harrassment controversy is that this is how the liberal resistance attacks prominent black conservatives: they go back in time and create plausible situations in which the black conservative du jour could’ve made a subordinate so uncomfortable that it forced them to create a paper trail that would only re-appear decades later. It makes sense that this theory would come from Rush Limbaugh, considering that he is close personal friends with Clarence Thomas (The Supreme Court justice officiated one of Rush’s various weddings). Not to mention Rush’s long history of standing up for oppressed minorities.
It also explains why black Republicans like JC Watts and Michael Steele had their careers ruined by sexual harassment controversies. Oh wait, they didn’t.
But it’s easy to see why an emotionally conflicted talk show blowhard might be confused by the situation: there just doesn’t seem to be a rash of sexual harassment claims against Democrats. Or white Republicans for that matter. I suppose the Thomas/Cain duo is not a statistically significant portion of our government, but it does raise questions about whether or not this is a coincidence.
I have a theory. But first, let’s start with some basic ideas…
1. All men are sexually aggressive. If they could, men would have sex (or attempt to have sex) with every woman they found attractive. Men who don’t think that way have been conditioned by societal norms and/or the fear of negative consequences.
2. Power, or the perception thereof, causes men to act differently than they ordinarily would. Power corrupts, but not always in a clearly defined way: at a bare minimum, men who feel powerful do not act as though the rules apply to them in the same way that they apply to everybody else. Or as they apply to them when they’re not powerful.
Thus, it is my opinion, that 95% of men with political power have been sexually inappropriate at some point in their careers. The question is why they don’t get in trouble for it.
One of my theories that I’m most proud of concocting is this: The only difference between a stalker and Prince Charming is whether or not the girl likes him. That is, if you compare the behavior of a psycho stalker and that of the romantic man of your dreams, they are startlingly similar. Imagine eavesdropping on a water cooler conversation between two women. One says that when she got home from work last night, a certain person had broken into her house, cooked her dinner, lit a bunch of candles, and had laid out a trail of rose petals to the bedroom. If you don’t know the backstory, can you tell if she’s talking about her fiance’ or the creepy guy from Starbucks that won’t leave her alone?
I bring that up to suggest the following: when a politician acts sexually inappropriate with a subordinate, the consequences of that behavior depend entirely on who the woman is. For example, suppose that she is receptive to the overture. Such a woman would be flattered by the attention, maybe has sex with the politician, and everybody lives happily ever after. Or until the National Enquirer finds out about it. (See Gary Hart, Bill Clinton, John Edwards).