A funny thing keeps happening on the way to the Republican nomination. Each successive frontrunner swoons in popularity as soon as the blogosphere, joined a little belatedly by the establishment media, subject him or her to more than superficial attention.
Herman Cain, the current favorite according to some polls, is now receiving that sort of scrutiny. His acolytes would have America embrace him as refreshing, unscripted, real, genuine – you know, pretty much everything Republican candidates never are – yet the longer he stands in the spotlight the more apparent it becomes that he’s a flibbertigibbet, politically naïve and uninformed on the issues, with a weakness for some of the worst ideas his party has ever proposed, which is to say some really, really, really bad ideas.
A very partial rundown follows of some of the most bare-assed preposterous things Herman Cain has said just in the past couple of weeks. My apologies in advance.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain argued that racism is not a professional barrier for African-Americans on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.
His answer came in response to a question in which host Candy Crowley suggested that Cain, who grew up poor and black, had been the benefit of some luck and was superimposing his success on his entire race.
“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity,” Cain responded. “I don’t believe racism in this country holds anybody back in a big way.”
Very inspirational, Mr. Cain. A lot of minority kids will be giddy to hear that the substandard educational “preparation” they’re receiving will actually equip them well for the dizzying amount of “opportunity” awaiting them in a world where (with “luck”) they’ll get to be governed by Republicans.
And unless he’s the one playing it, Cain decries what he calls the “race card” vehemently. Here’s Cain on October 3:
Speaking outside Trump Tower today, Herman Cain dismissed the idea that he was trying to paint Rick Perry as a racist by having called Perry “insensitive” yesterday when asked about the “[N-word]head” rock on property Perry had leased.
“All I said was the mere fact that that word was there was ‘insensitive.’” Cain responded. “That’s not playing the race card. I am not attacking Gov. Perry. Some people in the media want to attack him. I’m done with that issue!”
“I really don’t care about that word,” Cain added. “They painted over it. End of story! I accept Gov. Perry’s response on that.”
Actually, what Cain had described as “insensitive” was quite clear from his original statement of the day before, which the candidate had apparently forgotten:
“My reaction is, that’s just very insensitive,” Cain told Fox. “[There] isn’t a more vile, negative word than the N-word, and for him to leave it there as long as he did, before I hear that they finally painted over it, is just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.”
Wow! Cain’s even quicker on a turnaround than George Bush the Lesser, who said in December of 2001:
We’re going to get [bin Laden]. Dead or alive, it doesn’t matter to me.
But by the following March was saying this:
Well, as I say, we haven’t heard much from him… again, I don’t know where he is. I — I’ll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.
But Herman Cain knows when to hold ’em, and far be it from me to tell him when to fold ’em:
Back in July, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain told Fox News that the “race card is now a joke, because a lot of American people have figured it out.” It’s a sentiment he’s repeated frequently, arguing that Democrats cry racism to paper over President Obama’s faults.
Yet Cain frequently invokes race on the campaign trail, far more often than Obama did during his first campaign for the White House.
Cain seems downright obsessed with cards of all sorts:
He contended that those protesting against banks were merely jealous of wealthy Americans, or those with financially lucrative jobs, and lambasted them for playing the “victim card.”
“Part of it is jealousy,” he said. “I stand by that. And here’s why I don’t have a lot of patience with that. My parents, they never played the victim card. My parents never said, ‘We hope that the rich people lose something so we can get something.’ No, my dad’s idea was, ‘I want to work hard enough so I can buy a Cadillac – not take somebody else’s.’
There’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done, as it were. Cain has also been busy building bridges to the gay community:
“How can you say that being gay is a choice?” the question came in from Twitter on [Lawrence] O’Donnell’s show. “Did you choose to be straight?”
Cain had just come off a bruising discussion with O’Donnell about whether he sat out of the civil rights movement while in college. So Cain’s answer was brusque.
“There will always be a difference of opinion,” he said. “Like I told Joy Behar, she has her opinion, I have my opinion. It’s a difference of opinion. Next question, please.”
On the brighter side, at least Cain didn’t accuse the questioner of playing the gay card, though I’ll bet he wanted to.
It wasn’t all straw-man politics this week, however. Cain got to talk about serious “policy” proposals, like his so-called “9-9-9 Plan”:
… which would slash taxes on the wealthy, drive up deficits to the worst point since World War II, and force low-income Americans to pay a massive nine times their current tax rate. In an interview this morning with CNN’s Candy Crowley, Cain even said food and clothing would not be exempt from the 9 percent national sales tax he would put in place if elected president. Indeed, he said it would be “fair” for a poor person to pay as much in sales taxes as Crowley does…
Presently, the bottom quintile of earners pays about 2 percent of their income in federal taxes. Under Cain’s plan, their taxes would increase all the way up to 18 percent.
Taxing poor people’s food is considered so beyond the pale that even the Tea Party group FreedomWorks assumed that the final version of Cain’s tax plan would exempt food from the sales tax.”
Michele Bachmann, another former frontrunner desperately seeking to rekindle some sparks under her campaign, smote the “9-9-9 Plan” in Tuesday night’s GOP debate:
I would have to say the 9-9-9 plan isn’t a jobs plan, it is a tax plan… And one thing I would say is, when you take the 9-9-9 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil’s in the details.
Get thee behind her, Herman Cain! Continue reading Take Five (Careful What You Wish For edition)