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The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Conservative Reactions to Herman Cain’s Sex Scandal

When news broke last Sunday that GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain had been accused of multiple instances of workplace sexual harassment in the 1990s, conservatives had the opportunity to reevaluate their opinion of the candidate and his fitness for the highest office. Instead, reactions broke down roughly into two camps: those who saw nothing but a racist witch-hunt from the liberal media and those who took the opportunity to dispute and belittle the existence of sexual harassment in the first place. Of course, these two diatribes aren’t mutually exclusive, and some particularly ambitious pundits took pains to voice both. But judge for yourself: Here’s a list of the worst reactions to the scandal thus far.

John Derbyshire (The National Review Online, 11/2/11): 

“Is there anyone who thinks sexual harassment is a real thing? Is there anyone who doesn’t know it’s all a lawyers’ ramp, like ‘racial discrimination’? You pay a girl a compliment nowadays, she runs off and gets lawyered up. Is this any way to live?”

Ann Coulter (Fox News, “Red Eye,” 11/1/11):

“When they go after Clarence Thomas because they want to keep a pro-life justice off the Supreme Court, who happens to be black …  [This is] the same thing that Democrats in the South accused blacks of for a hundred years: 'Oh, the over-sexual black man' and then they turned around a hundred years later and do the same thing. This is a high-tech lynching.”

(Fox News, “Hannity,” 10/31/11)

“Everyone knows that an awful lot of these sexual harassment lawsuits, the bar has been set so low by court cases, I mean, things like a man having a photo of his own wife in a bathing suit on his desk, that has been considered a hostile environment. Silly comments made at a meeting, comments overheard, not even directed at a woman in the workplace has been used as grounds as a sexual harassment.”

Rand Paul (The National Review Online, 11/1/11):

“There are people now who hesitate to tell a joke to a woman in the workplace, any kind of joke, because it could be interpreted incorrectly. I don’t. I’m very cautious.”

Donald Trump (Fox News, “On the Record,” 11/2/11):

"I think it’s a very ugly witch hunt and I think it's very unfair. You say, ‘Oh, hello, darling, how are you?’ And you get sued because you’ve destroyed somebody's life. It’s ridiculous. And I think it’s very unfair to him. And unless there’s something that we’re not seeing—meaning you, I, and everybody else—I think it’s a very unfair situation.”

“[The accusers] probably do love their names splashed across the front pages. And frankly, I think that’s not a good situation and I don't think it’s a fair situation.”

Rush Limbaugh (The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/31/11)

“[T]his story is a joke that can only truly be appreciated by Clinton and other sexual predators.”

“Rubio and Cain unfit to lead, don’t you see? We cannot have a black Republican running for the office of president.  We can't have one elected.  We can't have an Hispanic. The left owns those two groups, and those two groups are gonna forever be minorities. Those groups cannot ever be seen to be self-sufficient or rising above, on their own. Those two groups are owned—lock, stock, and barrel—by the Democrat Party and anything good that happens to any black or Hispanic in American politics can only happen via the Democrat Party.”

“It really is about blacks and Hispanics getting too ‘uppity.’ That's what this is. "You don't achieve in American politics as a Republican, as a self-reliant individual or conservative. You don't do it. You try it and we're going to destroy you!”

Laura Ingraham (The Laura Ingraham Show, 10/31/11):

“We have seen this movie before and we know how it ends. It always ends up being an employee who can’t perform or who underperforms and is looking for a little green.”

“How much money did it take for you to swallow your principles? ‘Oh I was so offended.’ So in other words, you lose the fact that you’re offended if you’re paid money? Does anyone understand that?”

Erick Erickson (Red State, 10/31/11)

“It just strikes me that a settlement for less than six figures is money paid to deal with the nuisances of an employee fired or otherwise let go who decided to raise the specter of harassment to get more money to leave without causing a scene.”

Thomas Stackpole and Darius Tahir are interns at The New Republic.