Until now, if someone had predicted a presidential election pitting two African-American candidates, I’d have asked what he was smoking.

It’s still a long shot — especially after nearly two weeks of sexual-harassment accusations, culminating Monday in Sharon Bialek’s claim that Cain’s indiscretions were physical, not just verbal.

It’s probable the initial series of stories disclosing the accusations were the work of a leaker trying to knock Cain out of the race for the Republican nomination for president. Sandbagging a political opponent is the highest form of a left-handed compliment.

Virtually a political unknown only months ago, Cain has been running neck-and-neck in the polls with Mitt Romney, a veteran campaigner. Dirty tricksters don’t waste their talents on also-rans, making it likely some political operative saw the real possibility of Cain squaring off against President Barack Obama, next November — and didn’t like it.

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