In a mere 48 hours, the two original Herman Cain “inappropriate behavior” claims have doubled to four — and the blame game for all the leaks has begun. Rumors of the unlucky no. 3 first started swirling this afternoon, when the AP reported that another unnamed woman considered filing a workplace complaint against Cain in the late-nineties, during his tenure as head of the National Restaurant Association (NRA).
Stern-looking GOP pollster Chris Wilson also says the would-be front-runner sexually harassed a woman in an Arlington, Virginia, restaurant, also during the late-nineties.
And if you thought that Cain only gets accused by people he spent time with in restaurants or restaurant associations, think again: Today, Iowa radio-jockey Steve Deace accused Cain of creeping out staffers in his studio. “Like awkward/inappropriate things he's said to two females on my staff,” Deace told Politico. “The fact the guy's wife is never around ... that's almost always a warning flag to me.”
The candidate’s denials have ranged from contradictory to testy to musical, but today, he wasn’t afraid to point the finger — specifically, at maple syrup enthusiast and rival GOP contender Rick Perry, whose campaign Cain accused of leaking the harassment story. Cain alleges that Curt Anderson, his former adviser and now a consultant at a pro-Perry consulting firm, ratted him out on the NRA harassment claims. “Those charges were baseless, but I thought [Anderson] needed to know about them,” Cain said. And why did the sellout have to be Anderson? “I don’t recall anyone else being in the room when I told him.”
Perry’s camp denies that it leaked the story — and is blaming the Romney campaign in turn. (One other theory, floated wildly in the Washington Examiner, blames Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel for the leak.) The other candidates, including Romney, have barely made a peep about the accusations. But the vow of silence hasn’t extended to conservative pundits, who are universally enraged and near-universally claiming that the claims are racist — or in Ann Coulter’s nostalgic words, “a high-tech lynching.” Cain himself has said that the media circus is motivated by his skin color, but admits “we do not have any evidence to support it.”
If Cain can take solace in anything, it’s that the scandal probably won’t hurt his reputation with those who already think he's the Antichrist. Really. “Herman Cain’s full name means Leader of the Army of Satan,” wrote one online conspiracist. “Cain’s speaking ability is touted by many to have a ‘miraculous’ capability to turn people to his way of thinking.”
But at least the anti-Christ conspiracy theorists are taking Cain as a force to be reckoned with. Gail Collins, writing about the scandal in the Times, as part of a column pointing out our fascination with " lively discussion topics devoid of actual meaning," had this to say: "Sexual harassment is a serious subject. But Herman Cain isn’t."
This post has been edited from its original version.