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It should come as no surprise that I don’t much care for anyone in the GOP field and this includes Herman Cain. He’s like a malicious version of Ross Perot, with none of Perot’s charm. So I have a certain base-line level of disgust with Herman Cain to start with, but there have been two spikes recently which have caused me to absolutely despise him. The first was this little number, reported by The American Prospect.
Cain’s speech Friday afternoon was a barnstormer. His loudest applause, a standing ovation, came when he noted his upbringing under Jim Crow, but he told the crowd that he’s never been upset with the treatment of blacks in America. “I have achieved all of my American dreams and then some, because of the great nation, United States of America,” Cain said. “What’s there to be angry about?” he asked.
Here’s the more official version from the transcript:
One of the questions that I get asked sometimes running for president of the United States: Mr. Cain, didn’t you grow up in the civil rights movement?
Yes, I did, in Atlanta, Georgia — raised in Atlanta, Georgia, during the ’50s, the ’60s, before the civil rights movement, during the civil rights movement. I was around when they signed the civil rights movement (sic) of 1964, when they signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. This nation has made it through the Civil War. This nation has made it through the struggle we had with slavery, Jim Crow laws, civil rights.
A reporter asked me just yesterday: Well, aren’t you angry — (laughter) — about how America has treated you?
I said: Sir, you don’t get it. (Laughter.) I have achieved all of my American dreams and then some — (cheers, applause) — because of the great nation United States of America. (Cheers, applause.) What’s there to be angry about? Angry? (Applause continues.)
Translation: Herman Cain made a lot of money, therefore people no longer need to be angry about Jim Crow. Um. OK, nationalism and patriotism are all well and good, but this takes flag-waving American exceptionalism to a whole new and awful extreme. This is the race-relations version of that disgusting old GOP chestnut “well I lucked out, why didn’t you?” which is just another way of casting the poor as undeserving. After all, if they deserved to be rich, they would be! Herman Cain hasn’t felt discriminated against, apparently, so why should you? Hear that, black America? Jim Crow wasn’t that bad. And anyway, the elected government of the United States of America may have enacted generations of legislation victimizing black Americans, but America (an amorphous entity made up of fireworks and apple pie) made Herman Cain’s American dreams come true.
It’s like he’s saying no harm no foul. Which is laughable, not to say benighted and revisionist, because he’s apparently forgotten or chosen to ignore the generations of black (and Asian, and Latino, and native American, etc) Americans whose American dreams did not come true because of Jim Crow, and the mountains of other legislation that either directly discriminated against or failed to protect the rights and privileges of American citizens. And he’s apparently forgotten or chosen to ignore the fact that Jim Crow type laws were written explicitly to prevent minorities from participating in the American dream.
No one is saying that Herman Cain, or indeed anyone, needs to be carrying a chip on their shoulder about stuff that happened 40, 50, 60 years ago. How people interact with their own ethnicity ought to be entirely their own business. Of course it isn’t, but it oughta be, and to that end I will not unleash the extensive commentary I had written earlier about how Herman Cain is a dipshit for so obviously attempting to erase his ethnicity in order to hang with the good old boys of the GOP. And yet, at the same time, he’ll use the “Niggerhead” situation as a way to score off Rick Perry, which is not to say that Perry doesn’t deserve it.
The weirdest thing about this is that the GOP was recently called out on their relationship to black history in America. And do you know who did it? Michael Steele. His response to the “Niggerhead” story was this eminently reasonable and well constructed comment:
STEELE: We cannot be lackadaisical about these issues. We cannot be insensitive in that regard and say well just paint over it, because it still is a reminder of what’s beneath the paint. And I think again that’s what irks a lot of African-Americans and a lot of minorities when it comes to how the Republican Party and sometimes its individual candidates respond to these types of things.
Michael Steele has become a voice of reason. Michael Steele has become a voice of reason!! Aughhhhh!
But as far as Cain’s ridiculous run for the presidency goes, this video is actually just as disturbing.
No, knowing the name of the president of Uzbekistan is not going to create a single job. But it is YOUR job as president, Mr Cain. Being proud of your ignorance of foreign policy may go over well with the tea party, who like to pretend that the economy is the only thing going on in the whole wide world, but it just lost you the neo-conservative vote. And also,
hopefully probably, the GOP nomination. Also, how is knowing the leaders of “insignificant” central asian states irrelevant to national security? I’m sure plenty of people thought Afghanistan was irrelevant before 2001. But it wasn’t.
Also, it is probably worth remembering that foreign policy is one of the few arenas for which the president really is directly responsible. Jobs bills, the economy, civil rights at home, all this issues are decided between the president and the legislature. But the formulation and execution of foreign policy is one of the few jobs that falls directly into the purview of the president. Matt Yglesias makes an especially good point:
The contrast with someone like Al Franken is, to me, telling. A comedian running for Senate naturally faces some voter skepticism even if, like Franken, he’s been politically engaged and active for years. So Franken clearly went out of his way during and after his campaign to show that he’s well-briefed and well-versed in the issues. He had a higher bar to cross than your average candidate, so he did the work to clear it. Cain, trying to leap from ex-CEO of third-rate pizza chain to president of the United States, doesn’t think he needs to do anything.
In summation Puffin: Ugh. I am thoroughly cheesed off with these clowns. And Herman Cain is Asshole of the Day.
I can’t really add a whole lot to this. I think Reich pretty much summed it all up. Gold star for being excellent and articulate and explanatory and stuff. Rock on Reich.
So basically, we’re fucked.
And now for some gratuitous space porn. I said I was awarding him a star and here
it is they are. Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, otherwise known as Orion’s Belt. Go here to read more (seriously, do it, it’s really interesting. Nerd out)