The Thinker

Master liar

I’ll give Herman Cain one thing: he is a great liar.

Of course, I cannot say for certain that Cain is lying about denying incidents of alleged sexual harassment and, more recently, denying an alleged 13-year on-again, off-again affair with an Atlanta-based divorcee. On the latter allegation, Cain at least admits a friendship with the alleged other woman, Ginger White. He admits giving her money from time to time. From the voluminous cell phone logs provided by Ms. White, it would be hard to deny they traded a lot of text messages, including one at 4:30 in the morning.

That’s quite a “friendship” you have there, Herman. Can I get in on this act? I suspect though I would not qualify for your offer because I am inconveniently a male and thus not quite the sort of “friend” you are looking for. I’d be glad to take your free money for being “friends”, as long as you don’t expect me to answer text messages at 4:30 a.m. Ideally, we’d be just Facebook friends.

My gut though tells me that Cain is just another in a long line of serial philanderers and sexual harassers so full of themselves they believe they are God’s gift to humanity, and in this case, the United States too. If I were in the top one percent like he is, maybe my ego would bloat up too, like a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in a Thanksgiving Day parade. Then maybe I could lie convincingly like Herman Cain. To lie like he does, you first have to be shameless. He seems to have all the qualifications there. This is, after all, a guy who feels free to berate the 99% for being failures because they are not among the 1%. It is much easier to imagine this than all these women being shameless too in order to get a day in the national news. If so, they probably had a terrific mentor. Unfortunately for Cain, there are all sorts of corroborating evidence: phone logs, overly personal handwritten notes in books that he has signed and memories of intimates of the accusers when these incidents happened. So as much as I might want to give Cain benefit of the doubt, the evidence suggests, if a fire never happened, something sure is smoldering.

I imagine learning to lie convincingly takes practice. It requires acting, although in Cain’s case he may have done it for so long that it has become like a second skin. One of the reasons I am so bad at lying is because I have so rarely attempted it. There are many reasons for this, but most likely it is because in my formative years I learned that lying was a sin. I learned this not just on my pappy’s knees, but also from various Sisters of Charity with long yardsticks and a flair for inflicting corporal punishment. So whenever I have lied I felt guilt. But more often I felt shame, which was painfully easily read on my face.

African Americans like Cain may have an advantage here: their darker faces make it easier to hide a flushed face. Or perhaps he never learned to feel ashamed about lying. Regardless, the art of lying convincingly requires no fear. Raise that chin. Look the camera directly in the eye. Do not hyper-blink. Be the person you want to project. This probably becomes easier as you rise in the corporate world. People learn to fear you, or at least act in a submissive fashion. The world should move around you, rather than the other way around. This approach has the “virtue” of providing an element of doubt. If you can charge fearlessly ahead in spite of these allegations like Cain, it is easier to give the benefit of the doubt to the candidate, particularly if you are inclined to vote for him anyhow.

I do wonder what would happen if there were incontrovertible proof. If Cain and White did have sex, there may be DNA evidence lying around. This certainly was bad news for Bill Clinton but at least he was already president at the time. Cain might regret his absolute denials. Meanwhile the Cain campaign is hedging, saying it is “reassessing” his candidacy. An untimely withdrawal from the race may be as close as we get of an admission of guilt.

I would not be surprised, as in the case of Jenny Sanford, if some weeks after Cain’s withdrawal from the race we learn that his wife Gloria has filed for divorce. Then, instead of people remembering Cain for his 9-9-9 plan, his fortunes reversed, we may remember 666 instead: the Number of the Beast.


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