On the Absurdly Viable Candidacy of Herman Cain

Posted on May 31, 2011

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In the years to come, Herman Cain may come to be known as the Sarah Palin of 2012–a candidate that looks absurd on paper, not to mention in video, writing, and speaking–but with an increasingly, and shockingly, viable grip on the Oval Office. This is Herman Cain in the weeds on one of the best known issues in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Here he is confusing the Declaration of Independence for the Constitution.

Adam Serwer at the American Prospect gets to the bottom of the phenomenon, obviously one that is almost exclusively driven by the same white grievance that partially animates the Tea Party movement, given the almost unanimous support that Obama and Democrats have with African American voters:

it’s really not useful to talk about people being “racist,” in the sense of people being committed to white supremacy, but rather the […] lingering cognitive dissonance that allows people to reject racism as an idea while still succumbing to prejudice, particularly in anger. No, the Tea Party is not, and never has been the KKK. But that’s really irrelevant to the question of how racism factors into opposition to Obama […]

The extent to which Cain and other black conservatives hold appeal to the GOP remains sadly linked to the degree to which they can exonerate Republicans from charges of racism, particularly when it comes to racially charged attacks on Democrats. Take for example, Cain’s declaration that he’s disliked because Democrats “are doubly scared that a real black man might run against Barack Obama.” The implication here is that Obama is “not a real black man,” because, well, I have no idea, Cain’s dumb critique wasn’t as well fleshed out as that of Cornel West. But conservatives really like the idea of challenging Obama on matters of racial authenticity […]