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Monday, December 5, 2011

Witch Hunt: The Politician's Cry

     Herman Cain, on December 3, 2011, under allegations of sexual harassment and a thirteen year affair wth a woman he helped financially, dropped out of the presidential race. He has denied all of the charges, and claims he has been the victim of character assassination and a political witch hunt. Assuming that all of the allegations against him are completely false, is Herman Cain the victim of a witch hunt?

     It's probably true that the media has in general over-reported the story, and the left-wing media with relish. But that's just the lazy, low-hanging fruit picking kind of journalism we have today, and it applies to everyone in the public light. Herman Cain may be the victim of a bunch of lying women and easy, pandering news reporting, but in my opinion he has not been the victim of a witch hunt, political or otherwise.

     The term "witch hunt," used figuratively, applies to a government investigation and/or prosecution of innocent or harmless people. The term has been applied to describe the McCarthy era's hunt for communists working inside our government, and criminal cases involving railroaded defendants later proven to be innocent. An example of a criminal justice witch hunts includes the McMartin pre-school case where Los Angeles prosecutors created public hysteria by falsely and recklessly accusing dozens of California pre-school owners and teachers of child molestation. The wrongful conviction and imprisonment of three young men ("The Memphis Three") accused of satanic murder qualifies as a witch hunt. The members of the Duke Lacrosse team falsely accused of rape is another. People who believe (as I do) that John and Patsy Ramsey were innocent of JonBenet's murder consider them victims of a police and media driven witch hunt.

     A legitimate victim of a political witch hunt is former California Congressman Gary Condit who was falsely implicated by the media in the 2001 murder of Chandra Levy, a political aide in his office. The scandal, fueled by hack, tabloid reporting by the mainstream media, ruined Condit's political career.

     Politicians who, in my view, have falsely claimed witch hunt victim status include: Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Charles Rangel, Maxine Waters, Rick Renzi, Tom Delay, Jim Trafficant, William J. Jefferson, Cythia McKinney, Robert Torricelli, RandyCunningham, and an endless list of others. And let's not forget former Congressman Anthony Wiener.

     The term "witch hunt," as used by politicians, has been so attenuated it has lost its true meaning. Compared to what the media and law enforcement authorities did to Gary Condit, the McMartin pre-school defendants, and Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey, the Herman Cain affair is nothing more that hardball politics and tabloid journalism. Politics has always been a dirty business, and the candidates know this going in. What happened to Herman Cain may have been unfair and unjustified, but it wasn't a witch hunt.   

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