The Republican method of arguing.

Courtesy of Ta-Nehisi Coates, conservative writer John Derbyshire asks:

“Is there anyone who thinks sexual harassment is a real thing? Is there anyone who doesn’t know it’s all a lawyers’ ramp, like ‘racial discrimination’? You pay a girl a compliment nowadays, she runs off and gets lawyered up. Is this any way to live?” 

Coates also links to Dahlia Lithwick’s take on this sentiment, which is essentially incredulity that Conservatives are denying the existence of sexual harassment.

There are substantial differences between the attitudes of Liberals and Conservatives towards women, but in the particular case of Herman Cain I think it’s purely political convenience. If these same allegations were made against a Democrat, these same Conservatives would be outraged at him.

Incidentally, this does illustrate a difference in argument style. The position: “we don’t know what happened, but there are allegations of sexual harassment committed by Herman Cain that must be investigated.” is pretty weak vs. the position that “sexual harassment does not exist”.

Some would say that making such a sweeping statement is a mistake in arguing. After all, it doesn’t take much to be proven wrong. I used to agree with that–in fact, I still agree with the “proven wrong” part–but I do wonder if arguing from such a hard-line position offers a tactical advantage in how those who do it are perceived.

Obviously, when people are looking for “consensus” and “centrism”, the approach taken by Derbyshire is a better position to begin arguing from, since you can merely admit that it exists without having to allow the possibility that Cain did anything wrong in this particular case. So, you can appear to be making concessions and refining your case without actually doing it.

UPDATE: Conservative blogger and Herman Cain supporter Robert Stacy McCain says something sort of related to what I’ve said above. His statement basically speaks for itself, I think.

What's your stake in this, cowboy?