I have no idea if the allegations that Herman Cain was untoward with female colleagues at a Washington trade association have merit.
I do know that Washington sex scandals have no predictible arc. Anyone who lived through the Clarence Thomas hearings 20 years ago or the Clinton impeachment--yes, I know that that was about lying under oath but sex was at the root of it--or the Bob Packwood resignation or Sen. David Vitter's woes or Rep. Anthony Weiner's tweets or Sen. John Ensign's loans would be hard pressed to say how these things play out. Goners seem to survive. Those who look strong enough to make it often aren't.
My colleague, Ron Fournier notes, that Mark Block--he of the smoking video--was hunkered down in a let's-get-back-to-the-issues mode this morning at the National Journal election preview. "There's nothing to see here," is a tough line for a cop at the scene of an accident let alone during a campaign which is, basically, an extended job interview.
I may not know what will happen but i do know what I'll look for:
1. Does Cain haul out his family? I thought one of the admirable things about the Cain campaign is how he's not using his family as props the way most politicians do. Will he need to bring them out as character witnesses?
2. Do the women speak out? The ones involved in the settlement. Putting faces to stories makes them more potent.
3. Do more women make claims against Cain?
4. What happens to Cain in the polls?