In a melodramatic twist in the Herman Cain scandal, the Republican presidential frontrunner said this week that he'd be willing to take a lie detector test to disprove the sexual harassment allegations against him. "I absolutely would," Cain said. "But I'm not going to do that unless I have a good reason." Four women have accused Cain of sexually inappropriate behavior during his tenure as head of the National Restaurant Association lobbying group in the late 1990s. Would facing the polygraph machine help Cain salvage his reputation — and his campaign?
This would be a smart move — if he's innocent: If Cain wants people to believe him instead of his accusers, says Dan Amira at New York, he has to "break this he-said-she-said stalemate." Passing a lie detector test "would go a long way toward clearing his name in the court of public opinion." Cain says he won't do it unless he has a "good reason." But if restoring his reputation in the middle of a presidential campaign doesn't qualify as a good reason, what does?
"Herman Cain willing to take a lie-detector test"
No way. This would be a huge mistake: Cain should steer well clear of a lie detector test, says Greta Van Susteren at Fox News. They're so unreliable that they're inadmissible in criminal court. And "there is no way any man can pass" when the charges involve sexual harassment. Even "a 100-percent innocent man is going to feel somewhat 'guilty' when asked about his thoughts on the topic of women and sex." The test would just "distort everything" — and that's "fair to no one."
"Herman Cain should NOT take a lie detector test"
Enough silliness. Cain should release his records: A lie detector test would only further "demean an already cheapened political process," says the New York Daily News in an editorial. But Cain's current strategy — deny everything, call the accusers liars, and claim to be the victim of some murky plot — won't cut it, either. "Cain must produce the full record" of these complaints and the National Restaurant Association's settlement agreements, "documented on paper, for voters to pass judgment."
"Herman Cain's denials on Karen Kraushaar, other accusers fall short"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
- The real lesson of Rick Perry's mug shot
- Why China thinks it could defeat the U.S. in battle
- Welcome to the age of ambivalent feminism
- What the 'death of the library' means for the future of books
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- The Catholic case for military strikes in Iraq
- 10 things you need to know today: August 20, 2014
- How Republicans could win back Silicon Valley
Subscribe to the Week