Herman Cain Plays The Race Card
No doubt weary from a week in the media spotlight Herman Cain and his supporters are starting to insinuate that he is being unfairly attacked because he is a black conservative. The best example of that push back comes in a new web-ad from a pro-Cain SuperPac:
An emotionally charged and slickly produced new video obtained by ABC News from the group Americans for Herman Cain portrays the sexual harassment story as a racially motivated effort to destroy Herman Cain.
The video ends with the Clarence Thomas’s closing statement at his 1991 confirmation hearing: “This is a circus. It is a national disgrace. It is a high tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves . It is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order you will be lynched, destroyed caricatured rather than hung from a tree.”
As Thomas speaks, the video superimposes the words “Don’t let the LEFT do it again.”
Here’s the ad itself:
Cain himself said pretty much the same thing earlier this week on Fox News Channel:
KRAUTHAMMER: Mr. Cain, when Clarence Thomas was near to achieving position of high authority, he was hit with a sexual harassment charge.
You, contending for presidency nomination, the office of highest authority, leading in the polls for the Republican nomination, all of a sudden get hit with a sexual harassment charge. Do you think that race, being a strong black conservative, has anything to do with the fact you’ve been so charged? And if so, do you have any evidence to support that?
CAIN: I believe the answer is yes, but we do not have any evidence to support it. But because I am unconventional candidate running an unconventional campaign and achieving some unexpected unconventional results in terms of my, the poll, we believe that, yes, there are some people who are Democrats, liberals, who do not want to see me win the nomination. And there could be some people on the right who don’t want to see me because I’m not the, quote/unquote, “establishment candidate.” No evidence.
KRAUTHAMMER: But does race have any part of that? Establishment, maverick, yes. What about race?
CAIN: Relative to the left I believe race is a bigger driving factor. I don’t think it’s a driving factor on the right. This is just based upon our speculation.
These are familiar themes you hear from the right of course. Rush Limbaugh does it all the time, even as he uses subtext and innuendo to stoke racial fires. Ann Coulter is quite skilled at it as well, as her recent column “Our Blacks Are Better Than Their Blacks” demonstrates quite aptly. It’s really an absurd charge when you get right down to it. Herman Cain isn’t being “attacked” because he’s a black conservative, he’s a first-time candidate for President who has never held public office and now a front runner for the Republican nomination who is now being subjected to public scrutiny for the first time. There’s a lot about Herman Cain that the public doesn’t know, all of which is potentially relevant to what kind of President he would be. Moreover, he has advocated a number of bizarre things since declaring his candidacy, and has displayed an appalling level of ignorance regarding foreign policy. He’d be getting this same treatment if he was white, black, male, or female.
Of course, given the multiple versions of reality that modern conservatives have convinced themselves of, invoking race quickly becomes a journey into a logical neverland:
Assume the mindset of a Rush Limbaugh listener. You like Herman Cain. For weeks, you’ve heard on the radio about how he’s a successful businessman, how unlike liberals he hates it when people play the race card. Last you heard the show, Rush was explaining how the liberal media is targeting him because he’s black. Another hi-tech lynching, just like Clarence Thomas, is the explanation you got.
The next day you’re on the web. Cain himself says that although he can’t prove it, racism probably played a role in whoever spread these stories about him. Damn those dirty liberals, you think. Of course, you might not vote for Cain. You’re undecided. You like that Rick Perry too. Like that he is the governor of Texas, that he has experience creating jobs. You couldn’t believe it when the liberal media accused him of being racist just for hunting near a rock with a racial epithet on it. Just as long as Mitt Romney doesn’t win the nomination, you think, or that RINO Jon Huntsman.
But what’s this? Herman Cain says Rick Perry is behind the sexual harassment story? Wait a second. So Cain thinks the story was motivated by racism, and that Perry is the one who leaked it? Is Cain calling Perry a racist? That’s something a liberal would do. Or did Perry leak the story? That’s something you’d expect from a no good liberal too. Who is to be believed anymore?
Paul Waldman sums up the current conservative position on race quite nicely:
1. The primary victims of racism are white people.
2. The most vicious form of racism is when a white person is falsely accused of being a racist.
3. On rare occasions, a black person can be a victim of racism, but this only occurs when a prominent black conservative is criticized for, well, for pretty much anything. In that case, the criticism can only be motivated by the racism that liberals feel in their hearts, unlike conservatives, who all believe in the equality of all people.
What this episode highlights is how positively obsessed with race some on the right are. Limbaugh is a perfect example: He manages to find a racial subtext behind almost any policy of the Obama administration. For instance, he told his listeners over and over again that the Affordable Care Act was “reparations,” Barack Obama’s cruel plan to screw over white people as vengeance for the racial sins of the past. And when it turns out that multiple women have accused Herman Cain of inappropriate behavior — a fact that he has acknowledged, whether you think the accusations are true or not — and news organizations report on that fact, it just must be a racist conspiracy.
The reason for that is very simple. For people like Limbaugh race is a perfect way to put forward the myth that the American right is a victim of some massively unfair conspiracy perpetrated by the rest of society. It’s a way to create a bizarrely self-centered group identity, and it’s pathetic. Herman Cain started out this campaign saying that he was rejecting what he called the “racial politics” of the left. Now, that’s exactly what he’s engaging in and he’s got the Limbaugh’s and the Coulter’s of the world playing right along with him. He ought to be ashamed of himself.