Are the Herman Cain-Clarence Thomas Comparisons Fair?

Allegations against the 2012 candidate remind many of those made against the Supreme Court justice.

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This fall marks the 20th anniversary of the Anita Hill scandal that threatened Justice Clarence Thomas's appointment to the Supreme Court. Hill accused the judge of sexually harassing her while she worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She testified in front of the Senate, only to have her credibility questioned by Thomas's supporters. Thomas passed his confirmation by a narrow 52-48 margin, but the controversy brought the problem of sexual harassment to the forefront of the national dialogue. Thomas suggested there were racial motives behind his accusers, saying,

[A]s a black American, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.

[See 8 Politicos Who Survived Scandals]

Two decades later, alleged sexual misconduct threatens another prominent black man's political career. Accusations that GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain harassed two, and possibly a third, former female employees have dominated headlines in the week since Politico first published the story Sunday. The controversy has many Cain supporters comparing Cain to Thomas. Said Jordan Gehrke, the campaign director of the political action committee AmericansforHermanCain.com,

Herman Cain is winning the Republican race for President. So the left-wing media has swung into action. Just like they did to Clarence Thomas, they are engaging in a 'high tech lynching' by smearing Herman Cain's reputation and character.

Conservatives pundits are reiterating the claims. Ann Coulter told Fox News,

When they go after Clarence Thomas because they want to keep a pro-life justice off the Supreme Court, who happens to be black ... The same thing that Democrats in the South accused blacks of for a hundred years: 'Oh, the over-sexual black man' and then they turned around a hundred years later and do the same thing. This is a high-tech lynching

Even Cain's opponents are picking up on the similarities of the two cases. After her lawyer called for the National Restaurant Association to waive the nondisclosure clause of the original harassment settlement, one of Cain's accusers decided she would not go public after all, saying she did not want to be another Anita Hill, whose life was defined by the scandal.

[Vote: Who Leaked Herman Cain's Sexual Harassment Charge?]

The Cain campaign might consider distancing themselves from the Thomas comparison.  After all, many, including TJS's Janice Stiehm, feel Thomas was guilty of harassment. By connecting Cain to the Anita Hill ordeal, Cain supporters may also be connecting Cain to the anger and frustration that persists over the outcome of the Thomas hearing. Except now, 20 years later, sexual harassment is a much more accpeted and legitimate accusation than it was then.

What do you think? Are the Herman Cain-Clarence Thomas comparisons fair? Take the poll and comment below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: Should Herman Cain's Accuser Be Allowed to Talk?