Yeah, he’s a Black guy in Republican drag, but don’t discount him as a factor.
He’s really not that far off…
By Wendell P. Simpson
Sure, you’re tempted to snicker at Herman Cain, the Black businessman who headed a successful pizza chain named after the romanticized, familial non de plume of the head of a criminal organization—but don’t.
Yeah, you want to write him off as a 21st century incarnation of Stepin Fetchit, a shuffling, Tom-ing, symbol of the GOP’s sham diversity, but don’t… because Cain can be a serious player in the Republican lexicon.
He’s the kind of Black man the Grand Ol’ Party can wrap its head around: a self-made multi-millionaire who pulled himself up by the proverbial bootstraps, who never asked for a handout, and who bemoans the idea of public dependency—and because the Republicans will back ANYONE who they think can counter Barack Obama’s so-called ‘socialist’ rhetoric.
Despite being completely out of touch with the zeitgeist in America, there is one area in which the Republican Party has absolute cohesion: its singular, overriding obsession with beating Obama. This fixation is like oxygen, its sole raison d’etre. In this era of Occupy protests, of mass dissatisfaction with the status quo, and the complete and pandemic loss of faith in a system that has ground the American Dream into dusty fodder for the oligarchs, the party of the wealthy really has no other platform.
They know that Obama is vulnerable because the economy is the thing—while profits for the banking/corporate sector are up, the bottom is still falling out of the economy because: a) unemployment is close to Depression-era levels; b) the banks aren’t lending to the small businesses that create the bulk of the jobs because the bailout contained no caveat to do so; and, c) the Three Horsemen of the Trickle Down Apocalypse, Geitner, Sumner and Bernacke, STILL preside over a Big House policy that continues to buy up the bad debts and assets of the banks and Wall Street while cutting taxes (you just can’t get more Republican than having the government coddle the plutocracy by stuffing its the coffers as the disenfranchised working class drowns in debt—but the GOP’s redneck base hasn’t made the connection because it feasts on a steady diet of Fox News’ ‘every-opportunity-to-take-pot-shots-at-Obama-no-matter-what’ misinformation campaign).
And, finally, Obama has made a mockery of one of the conservatives’ most cherished ideals—mainly, its firm belief in the inherent and divine right of the white man to be in charge.
Cain fits into the paradigm perfectly.
While Obama soared into the White House on the thrust of his revolutionary rhetoric, Cain is a willing concubine of the conservative agenda. His vaunted up-by-the bootstraps story fits perfectly as a tanned version of the carefully crafted American Euro-immigrant mythology. Recently polls say that, if the election were held today, Obama barely edges a ‘generic’ Republican candidate; that is, a candidate who espouses typical Republican values.
This is a clear indictor that, despite the popularity of, and sympathy/empathy with, the Occupy protests and the Wisconsin movement, in which laissez-faire capitalism in collusion with official sanction is indicted as the natural enemy of the common folk, the country continues to lean politically to the center-right.
Cain also gives the Republicans some ‘street cred’. His color attempts to mitigate the consensus that the Right is racist, exclusionary, xenophobic, anachronistic and stoic—and unlike Michael Steele, Condi Rice, Colin Powell and Clarence Thomas, both the Republicans and Cain himself can boast of his ascension as absent the affirmative action quotient that propelled those others to the top of the GOP echelon.
And then there is the direct comparison between Cain and Obama. Let’s face it: an objective, microscopic examination of the two men’s policies reveals very little discernable difference. Obama has indulged Wall Street; Cain’s ‘999’ initiative (*note: flip the numbers upside down, you get ‘666’—hmmm..?) effectively does the same. Obama shills for Big Business; Cain OWNS the corporate entity he shills for. And, while he’s changed up his rhetoric a bit in the build-up to 2012, Obama has been a conciliator who has insisted on reaching compromise with the bad guys; Cain is already in their camp.
Now none of this is to say that Cain will be the Republican’s man come election time—he’s had a lot of trouble raising the kind of capital to make his campaign organization viable, the sexual harassment scandal has chipped away at his All-American image, he has no political experience besides a failed run at the U.S. Senate in 2004 (but, again, neither had Obama besides a brief sit down in the Senate in 2007), he won’t galvanize Blacks who, in the main, genuflect before the alter of the idea of Obama, and he still isn’t white—he’s still a useful guy to a party trying to find its legs in tumultuous times when sympathies are not with the purveyors of the status quo and where it’s leading candidates are a crazy, reckless Texas cowboy (Perry) and an Northern ex-governor linked to a religious group most Americans see as a cult (Romney). Cain, by extension, becomes rational and acceptable. You can’t write him off as a non-entity. You can best believe he will be a factor in the GOP’s run.