Ahead of Saturday night’s GOP debate, a social-issues-focused forum hosted by two conservative Christian groups, one of the groups’ directors announced that Herman Cain would not be asked about allegations from four women that he sexually assaulted them. “Every person in every press outlet that I’m aware of wants to get to Herman Cain on these questions about sexual harassment from years ago and they’re having ample opportunity to do that,” said Tom Minnery, the executive director of CitizenLink, the political arm of Focus on the Family.
Sure enough, the allegations weren’t mentioned. And in keeping with the event’s insistence on overlooking past sexual and moral behavior, Newt Gingrich delivered righteous lectures on conservative values without being asked about his hypocritical business deals, cheating on two of his wives, or the fact that he’s been married three times.
To anyone outside the evangelical conservative bubble—and probably even a few inside it—this was a jarring contradiction. How could the forum’s self-described “pro-family” organizers, who grilled the candidates on exactly how they plan to dismantle abortion and gay marriage, have so little interest in these unsettling episodes in their candidates’ backgrounds? How could they be content with vague questions about “what you’ve learned from your mistakes,” and with equally vague responses that evaded the questions on everyone’s minds?
David Sessions is the founding editor of Patrol. He covers religion for Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and is a graduate student in the Draper Program for Humanities and Social Thought at New York University. He can be reached at hdavidsessions at gmail dot com.
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