On Herman Cain and the Obamanation of Racial Politics
October 30, 2011 16 Comments
Herman Cain is a black black man. He’s got an accent. He was, in his words, po before he was poor. And he’s wildly popular — get this, with Republicans. Herman Cain is a southern conservative straight-shooter and currently leading some polls among Republican primary voters.
Herman Cain is an impressive man — and particularly compelling on the bread-and-butter issues that concern most Americans. But he’s not likely to win the nomination for the following reasons:
- He lacks any organization in key primary states. While he doesn’t seem disturbed by this deficit, and it could be that his campaign is ground-breaking in appealing directly to voters without organizing on the ground, it’s hard to predict him a winner against candidates who are doing the hard on-the-ground conventional work of appealing to individual voters.
- He lacks any political experience — arguably a plus for the voters who distrust seasoned politicians, but never historically a plus for Republican voters angling to win the general election. And it doesn’t help that one of the chief Republican criticisms of Barack Obama is his lack of experience, his meteoric rise way beyond himself after community organizing and two years as a Senator. The president has gotten some on-the-job training — but Republicans would still like to say, he wasn’t ready and he’s been inept, which is a more difficult argument if Republicans nominate someone who himself lacks any political experience.
- He lacks foreign policy expertise, to put it mildly, and has committed some gaffes in this area that give foreign-policy-focused Republicans pause.
- His insistence that he would never name a Muslim to his cabinet — while presumably designed as red-meat for voters idiotically obsessed with the imposition of Sharia law — cast doubt on his presidential ability to be inclusive. (To his credit, he back-tracked on this a bit. But it’s out there.)
If he nevertheless wins the nomination, count me a supporter. I just don’t think he will.
Which leads me to the Obamanation of racial politics. Some Democrats just don’t know what to do with a black man making headway in Republican primary politics. It can’t be that Republicans aren’t racist. And it can’t be that a black man could be conservative. So it must be a scheme — which narrative takes the following forms:
- Herman Cain is a tool of the diabolical Koch brothers, a veritable Manchurian Candidate, poised for power and ultimate execution of the Plan. In other words, he’s not really black or real — just a puppet with a black face. (In short, the traditional slander against any African-American who dares to buck liberal dogma.)
- Herman Cain is in it to make Republicans “feel good.” Or as Democratic strategist and former spokeswoman of the DNC Karen Finney told MSNBC, “I think he makes that white Republican base of the party feel okay, feel that they’re not racist because they can like this guy, I think they like him because he’s a black man who knows his place.” Knows his place?! Could you be more condescendingly racist?
- Herman Cain won’t win the nomination — which confirms the racism of Republicans — or, as random ridiculous bomb-thrower Bill Maher put it: “I will put up a million dollars against one that he will not be the Republican nominee. A million to one… I will give you a million dollars if you think that the Republicans are going to have an election with two black guys against each other. That they don’t have a choice to vote for a white man in the general election. That will never happen.”
These are three distinct species of disrespect for African-Americans and recklessly base contempt for Republicans.
1. The notion that an African-American cannot really be a conservative — and that if he’s posing as one, he must be a tool of white conservative interests — is preposterously condescending. It suggests that all African-Americans merrily think the same. And it suggests further that a couple of rich white guys who support an African-American candidate must therefore control him, because it couldn’t be that the African-American candidate thinks for himself, which he probably doesn’t do in the first place, thinking that is, being conservative.
It may be that the left should no longer take for granted people of color. It may be that people of color have diverse views. It may be that some people of color reach conservative views for legitimate reasons. Shocking, to be sure — but given the broad-brush racism painted on Republicans for opposing President Obama’s policies, isn’t is just a bit racist to hammer Herman Cain as a tool of white interests just because conservative white people like and support him?
2. That any ostensible spokesperson of anything could speak of Herman Cain as a man who “knows his place” bespeaks a profound tone-deafness in leftist racial politics. This, to me, is the nadir of the Democratic party race-card. Yes, Karen Finney was presuming to describe Republican reaction to Herman Cain. She hoped to belittle Republicans — but she most shockingly belittled a black man. A black man who “knows his place.” I don’t have words. It speaks for itself.
I don’t believe Herman Cain will win the nomination — but if he does, and he becomes president, he’ll be the post-racial-president that Obama articulately promised and starkly failed to deliver.
3. And finally, Bill Maher’s easy sleazy prophecy — Herman Cain can’t be the nominee because white Republicans won’t stand for it. (Eyes roll.) I’m betting a million dollars to your one, seriously, a million dollars, that Bill Maher won’t be the Democratic nominee for president because Democrats would never permit a rich repugnant white ass to usurp their half-black man, especially if a black-black man might be his competitor. You see my point?
Bill Maher and his ilk are determined to paint Republicans as racists. It’s trickier if a black man is popular in Republican politics — so the solution is to call Republicans racists for not nominating Herman Cain. Anything to call Republicans racists.
It’s exactly the rhetoric of Karen Finney and Bill Maher that produces more black conservatives — men and women sick of being stereotyped by the left, tired of the canard that an African-American must be a liberal, and that any deviation from liberal dogma makes them a traitor and an Uncle Tom.
We’re not even close to post-racial — one of the reasons I’ll vote for anyone over Barack Obama because I took that promise seriously — and reaction to Herman Cain tells me the right has a better chance of being post-racial than the left.