Politicians may run but they cannot hide!

From left: Bill Cinlton, Gary Hart, Gary Condit, Bob Packwood, Wilbur Mills and John Edwards.

Again, Herman Cain comes to mind. As do several other U.S. presidential hopefuls, among them the press-baiting Gary Hart, Bob Packwood, Wilbur Mills, Gary Condit and of course John Edwards—all of whom had tripped over their boxer shorts when they were within sight of their common goal. No surprise that the exception was Bill Clinton, for whom “the word is” held special meaning. Although he paid in several other ways dearly, Clinton somehow managed not only to avoid impeachment but he also went on to become one of the most respected citizens of the world, as much for his accomplishments in office as for his on-going efforts on behalf of the poor, the sick and deprived everywhere.
Of course we, too, have had our own episodes with aspirants to higher office. And if it might truthfully be said that they did not involve stained little blue dresses and sustained calls for impeachment, certainly the affair between one of our prime ministers well past 60 and a local school girl not quite 16 boasted its own unique aspects, not least of them a bundle of billets-doux replete with twisted allusions to Shakespearean sonnets and bearing the nation’s coat-of-arms.
Some who had imagined the shocking story—first published on the eve of the 1994 general elections—would cost the sitting prime minister and his party their House seats soon were reminded that in our neck of the woods it’s not so much what you do, or how you do it, that counts as who you are. Not only did the day’s voters return the prime minister with an increased majority but they had also handed him the mandate of his political life.
His defenders included clergymen and old ladies best known for their abstinence from all flesh-related activity. If in his love letters to the young woman the philandering married prime minister had exhibited traits antipathetic to regular Christian principles, chorused the endorsers of his behavior, at least he had treated her with uncommon kindness, paid for her education, her rent and board overseas, as well as other incidental expenses including her own private transportation.
At official functions abroad, he had on more than one recorded occasion passed her off to fellow high muckamucks as his loving daughter. In his quest to help her acquire U.S. and Canadian visas he had actually risked serious charges of providing false information to embassy officials. And yet none of that had been enough to disturb the equilibrium of his family life, at any rate, not insofar as was evident to the electorate.
It might’ve been a totally different story, however, had the prime minister been required to appear before a court to answer criminal charges, as did a candidate in the upcoming elections. The gentleman in question had found himself on the wrong side of the law after a colleague accused him of luring her to his office one Saturday afternoon in 2005, detaining her there against her will for several hours, and then grotesquely ravaging her.
A related statement by the alleged victim to the police, not surprisingly, has reportedly gone viral—in all its gory detail—triggering a war of words between supporters of a sitting MP and his challenger.
On one hand there is the stubborn suggestion that what may or may not have transpired between two individuals nearly six years ago can have no relevance today (which position reminded me of the earlier-mentioned Herman Cain and the 12-year-old allegations of sexual harassment leveled
at him, not to say the ever-green Bruce Tucker episode that occurred more than three decades ago, yes, over 30 years!) and should therefore be treated as more slop under the bridge.                 Besides, say subscribers to that view, their candidate had never been declared guilty as charged, therefore is entitled to the benefit of the doubt and treated as innocent.
His opponents vehemently disagree. They point out that the alleged victim—for reasons not disclosed in open court, had tearfully decided before a magistrate not to proceed with her case, hardly the same as admitting her rape story had been the fantastical figment of a twisted imagination. Moreover, they say, the requirements of court procedure—proof beyond reasonable doubt not being the least—was one thing and public accountability at election time quite another.                 They underscore the fact that it was only after the alleged victim had provided the police with a credible written statement, and following meticulous police investigation supported
by medical examination that the Director of Public Prosecution had determined there was indeed a strong case to answer.
They insist on hearing from the election candidate himself why his accuser had finally decided not to proceed with her case past a certain point, as had so many other women before her who had caved in under the pressures of hard-nosed defense lawyers and colleagues primarily concerned about their profession’s public image, to say nothing of the attendant intrusive press.
An anonymous letter to this newspaper revisited the following blast from the past: “When halfway through her 1995 case against the Labour Party’s then deputy chairman the alleged rape victim disappeared without trace, the trial came to an abrupt conclusion. But that did not satisfy the accused. In the best interests of his reputation, he later claimed, he sued his accuser in absentia, for slander, and was awarded damages by a court judge.”
As for the alleged victim in the latest matter, the word around is
that she would like to put the whole sad episode behind her and move on with her life—an understandable personal ambition. But it can hardly be said the interests of the electorate, not to say the immediate concerns of the involved election candidate, will best be served by the fog of silence that even now surrounds
the case.

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