Herman Cain: Barack Obama Not A “Strong Black Man”

Some rather odd comments from Herman Cain in an interview that appears in this week’s New York Times Magazine:

Before you announced your campaign, you said that the liberal establishment is scared that “a real black man might run against Barack Obama.” Are you suggesting Obama isn’t really black?

A real black man is not timid about making the right decisions, that’s what I meant. Look, I’m not getting into this whole thing about President Obama. It is documented that his mother was white and his father was from Africa. If he wants to call himself black, fine. If he wants to call himself African-American, fine. I’m not going down this color road.

But you’re saying he’s not really a black man.

Not in terms of a strong black man that I’m identifying with. I identify with a strong black man like Martin Luther King Jr., or my dad, Luther Cain Jr., who didn’t have a lot of formal education, but he had a Ph.D. in common sense.

Cain also said that calling Obama “Kenyan” isn’t racist:

At Tea Party rallies, you see signs referring to Obama as Kenyan. Are those racist?

Not if you’re from Kenya.

But he was born here.

I don’t think calling him a Kenyan is racist. Secondly, I think those kinds of signs have stopped because the leaders of the Tea Party movement have instructed their folks that we don’t need to do that kind of stuff.

Why Herman Cain is playing the race card against Obama, I’ll leave for the reader to decide.

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    I’m going to say it’s because he’s a narcissist with a wildly inflated view of his own wonderfulness.

    Do I win anything if I get it right?

  2. WR says:

    Say what you will about Obama, at least he doesn’t talk about himself in the third person. And unlike Cain — at least judging by this interview — Obama has a sense of humor.

  3. anjin-san says:

    If nothing else, Cain has now proven that he can be ignorant when discussing a broad spectrum of subjects – it’s not limited to foreign policy.

    I get the sense he is a successful businessman who has surrounded himself with yes men. He does not seem to have a clue about speaking to a critical audience.

  4. An Interested Party says:

    Ahh…the smell of desperation…stick a fork in this turkey…

  5. Jay Tea says:

    WR, the vast majority of Obama’s humor consists of denigrating others. (Examples available upon request.) Especially those who are considerably weaker than him. I’ll take Cain’s style over that any day.

    And as noted by someone else, the first four questions the Times asked Cain were about race. He doesn’t make his race an issue, so I guess someone has to do it for him.

    J.

  6. Secondly, I think those kinds of signs have stopped because the leaders of the Tea Party movement have instructed their folks that we don’t need to do that kind of stuff.

    Not because the tea partiers have stopped believe ridiculous conspiracies about Obama’s birth, mind you, but because their leaders realize admitting that openly looks bad.

  7. Jay Tea says:

    Secondly, I think those kinds of signs have stopped because the leaders of the Tea Party movement have instructed their folks that we don’t need to do that kind of stuff.

    Fail. One of the strengths of the Tea Party movement is that it has no defined leadership. There are no “leaders” who could make such a dictate and make it stick.

    No, it was the majority of the Tea Partiers who decided to lean hard on the idiots with those signs, and it worked.

    Cain’s statement shows that while he might be liked by the Tea Party movement, he doesn’t quite grasp its fundamental nature.

    And Stormy shows similar ignorance, in that he thinks that the “racist” component was a significant percentage. If it was, it wouldn’t have been shut down so readily and quickly.

    At least Cain is still in touch with the Tea Party ideals and principles, by and large, even if he’s a skosh out of sync with its structure…

    J.

  8. Kylopod says:

    >Why Herman Cain is playing the race card against Obama, I’ll leave for the reader to decide.

    Why? It has to do with one aspect of his resume that is often overlooked: he’s a friggin talk radio host. He’s Rush Limbaugh with dark skin, only not quite as charming. He uses the same gambit as Limbaugh when it comes to race: engage in a particularly shameless brand of race-baiting under the guise of identifying that trait in others. The only difference is that he’s black himself, and in the twisted world in which dittoheads live, that automatically gives him the cultural authority to say these things without being accused of racism.

    It’s like that ad last year by black Republican Les Phillip when he was running for Congress. The ad went through half a minute of very standard right-wing blather about Obama and Rev. Wright and radical Islam, and at the end Phillip stated emphatically, “And they’re not going to call me a racist.” Yes, Mr. Phillip, because everyone knows high melanin count makes it biologically impossible for any “racist” remark to emerge from that mouth of yours. Perfect defense!

  9. Jay Tea says:

    Hey, look! I’m already at two dislikes! I’m halfway to being suppressed!

    Come on, leftists! I know you can do it! Why argue with me, when you can just keep people from readily reading my comments? Censorship is SO much cooler than debate!

    J.

  10. If it was, it wouldn’t have been shut down so readily and quickly.

    I like how taking three years to reach a conclusion that everyone else had reached before the 2008 election equals “readily and quickly”.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Gosh Jay, you have a whole new victim card to play. Can’t be a real conservative unless you spend most of your time feeling sorry for yourself…

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Hey, look! I’m already at two dislikes! I’m halfway to being suppressed!

    Come on, leftists! I know you can do it! Why argue with me, when you can just keep people from readily reading my comments? Censorship is SO much cooler than debate!

    J.

    J, I am already on record 2 or 3 times as against the like/dislike function. But I wonder, why has it not occured to you that maybe…. just maybe….more than 1 conservative has reached the conclusion that you are a blithering idiot and would just as soon you shut up?

  13. PS – Apparently 77% of Republicans STILL believe Obama is not a natural born US citizen.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Ohhhh…. And I really like The Herminator, a one time CEO of a pizza chain. calling Barack Hussein O’Bama, the most powerful man in the world (President of the US of A, CIC of the most elite armed forces in the world, slayer of Bin Laden)(need I go on?)….

    Not strong?

    Parody has nothing on life.

  15. @Jay Tea:

    If you look over the various comment threads, the comments getting disliked are not ones expressing any particular viewpoint, it’s the ones that are focussed primarily on directly attacking other commenters. People apparently want the comment section to be less “Crossfire” and more “Firing Line”.

  16. Cynic in NY says:

    LMAO at this clown comparing himself to Dr. King. King would’ve spat in this man’s face in addition to Obama’s. Last time I checked King was on the side of non-intervention, not the side of mindless and bloody perpetual war. So Cain is strong black man, ok yep election over. Actually going from a thug ghetto trash liberal to a thug ghetto trash conservative is no improvement, all you did was just get louder. Lets see how Cain’s “strong blackness” stands up to Ron Paul’s background of actually standing up for the US Constitution.

  17. @Jay Tea:

    As an example, compare this comment to this comment. Both are making essentially the same point, yet one is 4-0 and the other is 2-3.

    What’s the difference? One is phrased in a way that invites discussion, the other phrased to insult anyone that disagrees with it.

  18. Jay Tea says:

    Stormy, let me know when you find a comment by anjin, WR, Interested, jukebox, Norm, or yourself hidden? You all have fiery tendencies (some more than others; it seems to be all WR does, for one), but I haven’t noticed any of those comments shot down.

    Maybe I should just peremptorily down-vote all comments from people with whom I disagree. I don’t like these kinds of systems, especially when they carry some kind of weight.

    J.

  19. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: Wow. Right wingers and sefl-pity. They go together like orange juice and breakfast.

  20. Jay Tea says:

    I didn’t really need an example, WR, but thanks for providing one.

    Back to the topic at hand… isn’t it interesting that the Times’ first four questions to Cain were about his race? Not his positions, not his beliefs, not his background, but his race.

    J.

  21. @Jay Tea:

    I remember seeing a few comments of mine being censored, although looking around now I can’t find them. There’s a number of ‘borderline’ comments, so they may have been hidden and then unhidden by more likes later on.

    I also agree that perhaps the negative margin needs to be loosened, I like the highlighting for the positive comments and the “hot debate” comments. Perhaps those should be left alone and the “punishment” for a negatively rated comment be just the negative rating itself.

    Or maybe make it -7 so we can get rid of obvious spam like this, but less likely to filter out Jay?

  22. Another thing I noticed, there seems to be more censoring going on the last two days then there was last week. Is that just my impression or is the weekend crowd actually differing from the weekday crowd?

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: J… I await your reply.

  24. Jay Tea says:

    A possibility, Stormy, but I would put forth an alternative: certain people have discovered the power in expressing disapproval, and are exercising it more. Also, as time passes, more people might discover it or choose to start using it.

    I know I was dead-set against using it, and now am doing so almost purely for malicious intent. But I think I’ll stop now. It’s quite seductive.

    J.

  25. Jay Tea says:

    Ozark, lemme know when you say something to me that actually merits a response. Yours was just a cheap shot, gussied up to look like a reasonable question but just an insult.

    Like my first sentence here.

    J.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    WR, the vast majority of Obama’s humor consists of denigrating others.

    Indeed! Poor Donald Trump…oh well, at least he didn’t get the Karla Faye Tucker treatment…

    I do so hope that what I wrote above doesn’t cause me to get censored… *sniffle*

  27. Jay Tea says:

    Yeah, interested — like Donald Trump.

    Trump shows up to a dinner where, traditionally, the president takes a good ribbing and shows he can take a joke. Instead, Obama and his lickspittles in the media all take turns trashing Trump, who is afforded no opportunity to rebut nor any time to prepare himself for the slams. Real classy there.

    Or like Special Olympics bowlers.

    Or Nancy Reagan and her “seances.”

    Or Nick Lovelady. (Google it up.)

    It’s what he does. His humor tends to be of the “ain’t I awesome” type, or “ain’t they pathetic” type. Kind of like how most of John Kerry’s humor boils down to much the same, with a “don’t I have great hair?” mixed in.

    I prefer the powerful to have some self-deprecating tendencies. Both Bushes, Clinton, and Reagan were great at that. Obama has to be dragged into it.

    J.

  28. An Interested Party says:

    Yes, it was very self-deprecating when W was looking all over the Oval Office for WMD…

  29. anjin-san says:

    Jay – do you ever stop whining? Just curious…

    I remember something an older friend who has always been a mentor to me told me when I was 20 and getting a bit whiny about something “men should not whine”.

    It’s good advice.

  30. Jay Tea says:

    Careful, anjin, I might vote your comment down…

    And congrats, Interested. You found two examples of Dubya’s humor NOT being self-deprecating. And yeah, I agree — the Carla Tucker and the Correspondents’ Dinner video were both pretty bad.

    On the other hand, his “I knew I had a problem when Arnold Schwarzenegger started correcting me” and “we call that walking” were superb, and the double speech with the Bush impersonator where the fake Bush voiced the president’s “inner thoughts” was absolute genius. And Bush kept a stone cold face the entire time.

    Obama? I recall him once saying “where are my pillars?” at a speech. That’s about it.

    But back to Cain… funny how the Times finds his race so important, it’s the subject of the first four questions they ask him. Not about his background, policies, beliefs, goals, or anything else that might be relevant. Just his race.

    J.

  31. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: Do those powerful people who should have self-deprecating tendencies include that poor victim Donald Trump?

  32. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: Actually, those questions were about things he’d said. He was the one who said he was a strong black man and Obama wasn’t — that was the subject of the first two questions. What you’re doing here is what you accuse everyone of else — using accusations of racism to shift the conversation away from Cain’s bizarre interview and to his victimhood.

  33. Jay Tea says:

    Trump could use it, but he’s got his own schtik. And Cain’s said a lot — a LOT — of things. But Time thought his views on race were the most significant to ask him about.

    Says more about them than him to me…

    J.

  34. Jay Tea says:

    And it’s not racism, WR, but — for lack of a better term — “racialism.” The idea that race is pre-eminent on all things, that it is always important, that when it’s a factor it’s the determining factor, and that it must be predominant in nearly all things. It’s of a kin to the whackjobs who are insisting that race is the primary driving force behind the Tea Party, that it’s the core of any and all opposition to Obama, and so on.

    So, naturally, it must be critical to Cain. That’s why the Times wants to talk about that before anything else.

    J.

  35. Tano says:

    That’s why the Times wants to talk about that before anything else.

    Your argument fails because the question the Times asked was about Cain’s own assertion about his race, and how it supposedly scares liberals. It was a deliberately provocative comment, intended to be noticed. It is beyond bizarre to cast aspersions on the media for asking him to clarify the comment.

    And his answer to the first question was a further effort to “go down the race road” as he denied doing that. He basically further argues that there is something rather illegitimate about Obama considering himself black I think it is pretty obvious that Cain is the one who is raising the race issue. If the media ignored that, you could legitimately criticize them for refusing to allow the man to make the case that he wants to make to the American people.

  36. MBunge says:

    “But back to Cain… funny how the Times finds his race so important, it’s the subject of the first four questions they ask him. Not about his background, policies, beliefs, goals, or anything else that might be relevant. Just his race.”

    You’re right.. Considering the Republican Party’s record on race issues the last 30 or 40 years, I can’t think of a single reason anyone would want to question a black Republican on racial issues. Not a one.

    Mike

  37. Jay Tea says:

    @Tano: Your argument fails because the question the Times asked was about Cain’s own assertion about his race, and how it supposedly scares liberals. It was a deliberately provocative comment, intended to be noticed. It is beyond bizarre to cast aspersions on the media for asking him to clarify the comment.

    That they brought it up is not my point. That they brought it up first, as well as second, third, and fourth, is my point.

    Cain isn’t running to be “the second black president” or “the first black Republican president.” He doesn’t tout his race and race experiences as his credentials. But it’s what liberals want to talk about, want him to address — because they can’t (or won’t) see past his skin color.

    Sad, really.

    J.

  38. anjin-san says:

    it’s what liberals want to talk about, want him to address — because they can’t (or won’t) see past his skin color.

    Dude, really – save it for Wiz Bang. You are making about as much sense as Cain does when he talks, and that ain’t much.

  39. Jay Tea says:

    I like Cain for his economic policies, life experiences, and general philosophy. Not so much his social policies. I’d like to read more about those, along with his foreign policy views — which I understand are a work in progress. I could care less about his race.

    I guess if I want truly important information, I should know better than to turn to the Times…

    J.

  40. Tano says:

    JT,

    You are acting like a caricature of a conservative Republican – just making your own reality and being impervious to the real one. You say:

    He doesn’t tout his race and race experiences as his credentials.

    when this entire thread begins with a quote of his “the liberal establishment is scared that “a real black man might run against Barack Obama.”

    How can you pretend that he is not touting his race – ” a real black man”???

    further;

    A real black man is not timid about making the right decisions, that’s what I meant.

    That is somehow an example of Cain NOT touting his race???? Not playing the race game?

    Are you here simply to entertain us?

  41. Jay Tea says:

    @Tano: You are doing exactly what the Times is doing. Cain has said a LOT of things, mostly NOT related to race. But you have to focus on the racial ones.

    And people complain when folks like me take Obama’s infamous “Joe the Plumber” incident and want to talk about Obama’s statement that “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody” being a pro-socialist statement. Because he’s talking about the government taking individuals’ wealth and spreading it around to those less wealthy, through taxation. About the government being in the wealth-redistribution business.

    I’m not challenging that Cain said that. I’m saying that by highlighting it, the Times — and you — are demonstrating what sorts of things you find most significant.

    I don’t give a rat’s patoot about Cain’s race views. Or his race. I care about his economic principles, his social principles, (especially how he intends to have his administration reflect them), his experiences, and other matters. That’s what I want to know about him before New Hampshire’s primary.

    Instead, I get yet another treatise on race and race relations from liberals — which I really don’t find the least bit interesting. At least, not interesting in relation to Cain. But as far as being reminded of how obsessed the left is with race and racial identity, that’s occasionally useful.

    J.

  42. Tano says:

    I’m not challenging that Cain said that. I’m saying that by highlighting it, the Times — and you — are demonstrating what sorts of things you find most significant.

    And yet you argue that the actual person who said these things does not find them to be significant???

    You can’t have it both ways. If the Times is race-obsessed for noticing Cain’s racial remarks, then Cain is race-obsessed for making those remarks.You can’t seriously claim that Cain made these obviously provocative remarks about the President while somehow supposedly wishing that they not be noticed and that he be asked about some other issues.

    I don’t give a rat’s patoot about Cain’s race views.

    So, blame Cain for making those comments. Don’t blame the media for noticing them. They are just doing their job and accurately recounting what the man chose to say.

  43. anjin-san says:

    Instead, I get yet another treatise on race and race relations from liberals — which I really don’t find the least bit interesting

    Which probably explains why you are posting obsessively about it.