How does Herman Cain become the bad guy for telling the truth, something every true blue member of the GOP says they want to see more of in a candidate? If you are a Republican, you really need to stop for a second and ask yourself—what other answer could a successful African American who has never shied away from the color of his skin possibly give to such a loaded question about race that wouldn’t sound like he was the second coming of Stepin Fetchit?
If Mr. Cain, who has suffered recent loss of key campaign staffers and is averaging in the teens in presidential nomination polls, was really seen as a serious contender for the nomination, hemight find that his recent comments to Christiane Amanpour on ABC’s This Week about Rick Perry’s connection to the Niggerhead Ranch could put his candidacy in jeopardy with conservative Americans.
One of the things that has made Cain an appealing choice to a lot of his conservative supporters is his unwillingness to back down when he believes he is right on an issue. But Herman Cain is about to find out what President Barack Obama knows all too well—serious black presidential candidates in this country are going to be forced to reconcile any rhetoric on race with a white America that is still extremely sensitive about the role their forebears played in the creation and maintenance of this nation’s systemic denial of racial equality to African Americans.
“Cain now showing his true colors”
Quote from FoxNews.com commenter
“I did like Herman Cain, until he played the race card today.”
Quote from Fox News.com commenter
“Cain has condemn himself with his false, evil words.”
Quote from FoxNews.com commenter
To assume, as some of these comments suggest, that because Herman Cain doesn’t constantly use racially tinged rhetoric, he can somehow “escape” how he looks and how Americans are prone to feel about someone who looks like him is a ridiculous assertions, but it is one journalists in TV Land have been debating ever since Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election.
Step back far enough to look at the big picture, and suddenly, in the middle of a presidential nomination process, with another debate a week away, the Republican Party finds itself forced to deal with race, an issue many consider its Achilles heel. It’s an issue Cain himself has addressed candidly in the past.
“Here’s my theory,” said Cain, leaning forward in his chair. “Let’s talk about the current field of Republican candidates. They can’t go after Obama as hard as I can because they’re not black. I think that, either subconsciously or deliberately, they are being coached to not say it a certain way, that you’re going to be labeled a racist and the liberal media is going to try to bring you down, because they still want to protect their precious Obama.”
Cain believes his audiences are a different story. “The voters, they hear my message first, not ‘He could take it to Obama,’ because they are more concerned about stopping Obama than taking it to Obama,” he explained. “This is what I’m hearing and this is what I’m feeling. And the race card is going to be short-lived if Herman Cain gets the nomination.”
I actually saw Cain’s interview with Christiane Amanpour of This Week when it was broadcast on Sunday. I liked Cain’s answers, even though I got that sinking feeling as I watched Amanpour stare at Cain that these were the kind of loaded questions that leave black candidates for any statewide or national elective office at a disadvantage. Unlike President Obama, who is prone to attempt to calibrate answers to questions like this as if they are specifically designed not to upset the world view of white Americans, Cain had no problem telling it like it is—“there ‘isn’t a more vile, negative word than the N-word, and for him to leave it there as long as he did, until before, I hear, they finally painted over it, is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.’”
Mr. Cain, the GOP’s racial reconciliation beefcake pin up, is likely to find out over the next few days that Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, was right—we as a nation are cowards when it comes to dealing with the issue of race in America.