Bialek's emergence seems like a very bad development for Cain in three ways: First, it marks the first time that Cain has been accused of something specific. Secondly, the charges are far worse than an off-color joke — in fact, what Cain is accused of doing sounds more like sexual assault, not sexual harassment. And third, as Ben Smith pointed out earlier today, the press conference provides the scandal's first TV footage that can be replayed endlessly on cable and network news. Any Republican voters open to believing the charges against Cain will now have plenty of lurid details to mull over for at least the next few days.
If she’s telling the truth, Herman Cain is a creep (and probably guilty of what legally would be considered misdemeanor sexual abuse, defined as sexual contact without the other person’s permission). If she’s lying, she’s trying to destroy the man’s presidential campaign and reputation over… some as-yet-unknown motive.
Where there's smoke, there's usually fire—or at least more smoke. Someone in a powerful position who used it to assault one woman probably did it more than once. Cain denies Bialek's claims, as well as those of his other accusers who have not come forward. But as the number of women stepping forward increases, it’s harder and harder not to believe that we’re dealing with a serial predator.
Cain is likely to be benefited somewhat by the fact that the two debates coming up this week are limited to the topics of the economy and foreign policy, at least he won’t have to worry about facing a question from the audience about this issue. The one thing that’s for sure, though, is that this is another week when most of the public exposure he gets in the media is going to be about an alleged sex scandal rather than what he’d rather be talking about.
[T]he accuser created a few legitimate questions for Cain. Is her story true? Did he encounter her again at a Tea Party conference in Chicago this year, as she claimed? There is a straight denial in this statement — "false accusations" — but now Cain has to contend with video (live-streamed by TMZ) of a blonde woman who claims that have been propositioned for sex. Bialek isn't taking any legal action right now, and she really couldn't. The statute of limitations for third and fourth degree sexual assault in D.C. is 10 years. (When Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas, nine years had passed.)
Cain can yak all he wants about how he’s not going to talk about this stuff anymore, but that’s all anybody is going to talk about until and unless he firmly and convincingly rebuts this stuff. This drip-drip-drip is going to kill his campaign. I’d say it’s probably dead anyway.