17 October 2011

It's a joke: Herman Cain's candidacy

Hardcore Republicans often seem to want a President, or at least a candidate, who more closely resembles a radio host than a statesman. That seems to explain Mr. Right's assumption that Mitt Romney, contrary to all other perceptions, would be the weakest Republican candidate. He can only mean that he doesn't expect Romney to spew the red meat that his kind of reactionary takes for sound doctrine. That attitude may explain the growing appeal among reactionaries of pizza godfather Herman Cain, who proved this weekend that he's mastered the right-wing "humorist" defense. You know what I mean: whenever a radio talker or screed writer gets called out for some especially mean-spirited, belligerent or bloodthirsty statement, he or she claims to be a humorist telling jokes. That allows them to perpetuate the stereotype of the liberal as a humorless crybaby who doesn't "get" anything. Of course, it's one thing for an author or radio host to use this defense, sense on some obvious level they actually are entertainers. It should be another for a presidential candidate to claim that a policy position he has advocated on the campaign trail, to the applause of audiences, is actually just a joke. Yet Cain employed the humorist defense on Meet the Press this weekend to apparently repudiate his advocacy of an electrified fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. He even had the gall to say that Americans should "get a sense of humor." And here I thought the fact of his candidacy was proof that Americans may actually have too much humor for their own good.

But in Cain's own spirit, allow me to contribute to the national humor. One night last week the nightly news was covering Cain and noting criticisms of his vaunted 9-9-9 economic plan. In our office, Mr. Right was hearing what he expected to hear about Cain from a network news program. "Go ahead," he scoffed, "Call him an Uncle Tom because he happens to be a black conservative."

I didn't want to get into anything with him at that point because it was late and I wanted to get out on time. But I thought about that comment, and after a while it occurred to me that I had no reason ever to call Herman Cain an Uncle Tom. A Simon Legree, maybe, but an Uncle Tom, no....


Anonymous said...

Or, perhaps more correctly, Simon LeGreedy.

Anonymous said...

The section of Mr. Cain's website that explains his stance on immigration reads “taking a stand on the issue does not mean one lacks compassion.”

Claiming one has compassion does not mean one actually has compassion. In Mr. Cain's case, this has yet to be proven.