This year’s model of the token Negro conservative is Herman Cain, the 65-year-old former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and supposed Tea Party “favorite.” Meaning: Another House Negro who tells White folks exactly what they want to hear; an echo of what they already believe.
“It’s time to get real, folks. Hope and change ain’t working,” Cain said during his announcement he was making a run to replace President Obama. “Hope and change is not a solution. Hope and change is not a job.
The Associated Press summed up Cain’s positions as follows:
Cain supports a strong national defense, opposes abortion, backs replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax and favors a return to the gold standard. He said President Barack Obama “threw Israel under the bus” because he sought to base Mideast border talks partly on the pre-1967 war lines, and criticized the Justice Department for challenging Arizona’s tough crackdown on illegal immigration.
The problem with rookies like Cain is they have their rhetoric down cold. It’s their policies that don’t show any thought put behind them at all. It’s predictable a right-wing Republican would have nothing good to say about President Obama’s call for Israel to move back to the 1967 borders, but watch Cain’s stumbling response in a Fox News interview and his foreign policy toward Israel can be summed up as Israel gets anything they want and the Palestinians get “nothing.”
This year’s Alan Keyes is just like the previous year’s model. A rank amateur who has never held any elected office (he ran for the U.S. Senate in Georgia and lost in a three-way race) and while he doesn’t have any solutions, could he interest you in some nice slogans?
But unlike Keyes there is much to admire about “the Herminator.” He’s an entrepreneur from Atlanta who when he worked for Pillsbury turned around a number of Burger King franchises and took on the challenge as CEO of raising the status of Godfather Pizza to third behind the Pizza Hut and Domino’s chains. He’s also a right-wing radio host who survived Stage 4 colon and liver cancer. The Herminator ain’t no wimp.
Which isn’t to say he’s not above sinking to the most tired of right-wing themes like President Obama not being an American citizen (“I respect people that believe he should prove his citizenship … He should prove he was born in the United States of America”) or how liberals aren’t simply wrong, but evil (“The objective of the liberals is to destroy this country. The objective of the liberals is to make America mediocre. … That’s their objective. Well, let me tell you something about mediocrity. It’s not in an American’s DNA to be mediocre.”)
Cain will be an entertaining figure at the Republican presidential debates, but if he really thinks the Tea Party or the Republican establishment is really going to conclude, “the best way to beat a Black liberal is with a Black conservative” he’s slammed one pizza too many. Obama painted the White House black and the GOP desperately wants it back. If Cain is lucky, he’d be considered for Secretary of Commerce in a President Romney or Pawlenty’s Cabinet. His more likely fate is to be just another afterthought in the lower strata of the Republican also-rans.
Can Cain turn his long-shot bid into a serious contender based upon his ability to send a tingle up the leg for the White right (as this love note from Michael Medved illustrates)? Unlikely in 2012 because outside of that narrow base, he barely merits a “Who he?” nationally. But in what is a pretty dull group of White guys running against him, Cain adds diversity and possesses a booming baritone that can reach the back of the room sans microphone. At the very least he will raise his national profile. That’s probably as good as its going to get because with only $13 in his campaign’s war chest the pizza man doesn’t have the dough to be much more than the bused-in entertainment at Republican debates.
The problems of this country and this world are too big, too complex and too much for Cain who is short of policy and long on rhetoric. If talking tough fixed anything Donald Trump would still be the GOP front-runner instead of just another guy who quit even before he started. There are some whom believe we need a businessman elected president since we’ve tried politicians and that hasn’t worked out.
The reality is we just had a president with a M.B.A. and spent the surplus, slashed taxes in a time of war, created a massive new entitlement program for the elderly without funding it, ran up huge deficits and led the nation into near economic ruin. Now Cain wants to the latest non-professional politician to advance the absurd notion that America can be turned around like an underperforming pizza joint?
Forget it. Herman Cain can’t deliver.