It has the feel of an ambush, this sexual-harassment story involving Herman Cain. And some conservatives are responding in familiar ways. “They are terrified of strong black men,” one commentator explained. “It’s another high-tech lynching,” thundered a radio talk-show host.
The emotional response is understandable. Ever since the orchestrated, scurrilous character assassination aimed at judge Robert Bork, conservatives have been perpetually on edge, waiting for the next slander of a public figure who represents a threat to liberal power. In a remarkable (and frankly, brave) acknowledgement of this history, liberal New York Times columnist Joe Nocera wrote recently that Judge Bork was a “legal intellectual” and that “whatever you think of [his] views, they cannot be fairly characterized as extreme. . . . The Bork fight, in some ways, was the beginning of the end of civil discourse in politics.”
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