Herman Cain and the Politics of Sexual Misconduct

"Should Herman Cain end Presidential Bid"   "Cain Reconsidering Campaign After Affair Allegation"   "Is Herman Cain Running a Zombie Candidacy"

Headlines like this are running in newspapers, magazines and websites across the country in light of new allegations that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain carried on an extramarital affair for 13 years. The former Godfather's Pizza CEO's poll numbers are down significantly from their peak in late October, and the media has more or less given up on him. Cain has announced that he will reassess his campaign and a number of analysts are saying that he could drop out of the race as soon as next week.
This an interesting situation and I think most would agree that Cain no longer has a chance of getting the Republican nomination. The only question I have is: Why now? If sexual misconduct is enough to end a presidential bid then why is it that allegations of a consensual, seemingly affectionate, and completely legal relationship are what finally puts the nail in the coffin. Why wasn't Cain's campaign declared dead in the water weeks ago, when multiple women accused him of making unsolicited and very much illegal sexual advances.

It's a strange state of affairs in this country when allegations of sexual harassment have barely any effect on a presidential candidate's overall poll numbers. Yet this is exactly what happened after Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment by four women at the beginning of November. A CBS News poll released just days after those accusations came to light still had Cain as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, and an ABC News/Washington Post poll from the same time period had him only one point behind Mitt Romney. However a more recent poll, released in the aftermath of the new extramarital affair allegation, has Herman Cain trailing the newest Republican front-runner by a very wide margin. Which brings me to my final point.

That newest Republican front-runner is none other than Newt Gingrich. Remember him? The same guy who left his cancer-stricken wife for his mistress, only to later leave his mistress-turned-wife for a new mistress after spending the better part of a year self-righteously attacking Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. With Herman Cain all but out of the race, the GOP has thrown its support behind the only candidate with even more extramarital affairs under his belt. Does anyone still wonder why confidence in our political system is reaching new lows?