Why conservatives support a joke like Cain—they think anyone can beat Obama!
A thought struck me today, that there is a close connection between the establishment conservatives’ constant braying (beginning at least a year and a half before the 2012 election) about the end of the Obama presidency, and their enthusiasm for Herman Cain. As you’ve said, Cain is not remotely qualified for the job, and is a bad politician to boot. Conservatives don’t want to hear this, because he sounds like an authentic fiscal conservative to them, and this election is, even more than most, about economics.
As Charles Krauthammer pointed out yesterday, Michelle Bachmann has already declared that Republican victory is all but assured, so much so that we don’t have to worry about issues like electability—no compromise on principle is necessary. [LA replies: Did she really say that?] Beating Obama is a foregone conclusion, so we might as well just vote our hearts. In my opinion this complacency is a big part of the explanation for the Republican base’s ongoing infatuation with Cain, no matter what missteps he makes and no matter how damaged his brand becomes.
This is very worrisome, because not only is Obama not beaten, but I’m more and more convinced that if the election was a month from now, he would absolutely wipe the floor with Herman Cain. Cain will never—and I do mean never—beat Obama on style, and he won’t win a single debate against him. All the things that made a man named Barack, with a background like his, into a pill the American electorate could swallow are totally absent in Cain. He has characteristic southern black inarticulateness, constantly mangling and mispronouncing words and stock phrases. Having grown up in the deep South, I can tell you that this is not an “accent,” it is a sure signal of Southern blacks’ aversion to reading that is almost an allergy. The fact that he didn’t know China possessed nuclear weapons, and similar revealing gaffes, demonstrate that Cain is a deeply ignorant man.
Now in many ways, the President is also a deeply ignorant man. But what he does have is the ability to affect erudition, the ability to mimic a white liberal academic. [LA replies: See 2008 VFR article by Joseph Kay, “The empty black suit.”] He also doesn’t trip on his own tongue constantly, and his gaffes are usually of the type that can be minimized or explained away. This is the thing that so many “centrist” whites found so alluring about him in 2008. In short, he’s a good politician—I think it was George Stephanopoulos who described him as “non-threatening.” Herman Cain sounds and acts, if I may say so, like the typical kind of black man that nobody ever thought Americans would elect. Certainly nobody would have assumed that Americans in general would be thrilled at the prospect of an inarticulate Southern black man with a thing for groping white women (and fair or unfair, that’s the basic profile he’s stuck with for the rest of his life).
Race still really matters psychologically, and Americans will elect the black man who conforms to the liberal fantasy, rather than the one who confirms the stereotype.
One of the ideas your comment brings out is that the Republicans’ anticipatory triumphalism about the 2012 election, for which I have repeatedly criticized and made fun of them, is more than an amusing and harmless folly. It has distorted their entire grasp of political reality, to the point that they look on Cain as a serious candidate for the presidency.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 08, 2011 05:40 PM | Send