News & Politics

Rightbloggers Double Down on the Second Coming of Herman Cain


Months ago, rightbloggers were celebrating the rise of Herman Cain. Then they grew restless, and moved on to Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Chris Christie, each of whom disappointed.

Now Cain is back, hilariously leading in some GOP Presidential polls and winning some straw polls, too. Cain is probably the opponent Obama would most like to face: he has announced his intention to tax the poor, he doesn’t seem to know much about the job of President, and — a fatal flaw for a Republican 2012 candidate — he’s not white and thus cannot excite the GOP’s important white racist constituency.

But his surge in polls has stirred the brethren, who explain to their readers that it doesn’t matter that Cain is totally unqualified — he pisses off “experts” and liberals, and that’s what counts.

Cain’s status has also been boosted by the cooperation of a news-hungry reporters and insecure columnists; e.g., stats expert Nate Silver took a why-ask-me attitude toward the candidate’s Presidential chances (“while I think the conventional wisdom is probably right about Mr. Cain, it is irresponsible not to account for the distinct and practical possibility… that it might be wrong”).

Rightbloggers seized the moment, finding in the new Cain boomlet a chance to shake off the doldrums of the uninspiring 2012 race.

“OK, so [Cain’s] not an expert at foreign policy and prefers catchy slogans to wonkish details,” said Robert Stacy McCain. “He’s shown a knack for getting himself tangled up in controversy while improvising answers to questions about issues where most Republicans have well-thought-out positions…”

But so what? “And yet — and yet — Cain’s strengths are greater than his weaknesses,” claimed McCain. “Herman Cain has enormous potential as a candidate and despite all his flaws and failures he is, after all, winning. As I said the other day, victory tends to become its own argument.”

Actually so far Cain has won only some polls, but that’s enough to excite McCain, who said to all those snooty elitists who don’t take Cain seriously, “People sometimes forget that about politics: Events matter.” And a phone or straw poll or press conference is an event, just like a primary or convention vote. Quit being so judgmental.

Michael Barone admitted that Cain showed “prodigious ignorance on some important foreign policy and domestic issues,” but again, so what? Like McCain, Barone saw taking Cain seriously as a boldly counterintuitive move, part of a “revolt against the experts,” which Barone said had been going on since Vietnam, when “confidence in leaders and respect for expertise fell,” and has continued ever since because everything America does is a crap-fest, including (surprisingly) the Iraq War that Barone used to think was terrific.

Besides, added Barone, Obama is just as bad: in 2008, he was “a candidate with minimal experience in either foreign or domestic policy and no executive experience at all.” Obama had been a state and U.S. Senator, of course, and has never said anything half as ridiculous as what Cain says every couple of days, but we take the point: America is doomed, why not elect a nut? Maybe Cain can make that his campaign slogan.

Though he found Cain “an angry old dude spouting dumbass crap,” Ace of Spades also took time to lambaste the “elites” who found Cain unserious. “They are incapable of seeing beyond their own biases,” he sniffed. “They listen only to themselves, to people expressing pretty much the same opinions they do… If you’re inclined against [Cain], you should take him seriously, and stop singing the song of the ‘experts’ (who don’t know what they’re talking about) that he could never be nominated so why bother even thinking about it much at all?”

At SabrePoint, Robert Ringer said that while “I’m sure there’s a lot of historical evidence to back up [Cain critics’] lack-of-money-and-staff argument, I don’t think they understand the mood of the average American today. They are victims of what I call the Paradigm Restriction.”

Basically, Ringer meant people are stuck in old evidence-based ways of thinking: “The idea that Herman Cain can’t win because of his lack of financial support is based on a pre-Tea Party view of the world,” he said. “People are angry, and the more they are told that someone like Herman Cain can’t win because of a lack of funds and/or staff, the more determined they are to prove the pundits wrong.”

Apparently a big part of Cain’s appeal is that intelligent people don’t believe in him, and by supporting Cain citizens can show that guy who was always raising his hand in their 9th grade Algebra class that he’s not as smart as he thinks.

Cain has also unleashed some bizarre internet ads that have garnered a lot of attention, sort of like Carly Fiorina’s famous “Demon Sheep” ad and other such hey-lookit-me efforts by desperate future losers. Rightbloggers seized on the head-scratching over these ads as signs of their effectiveness.

For example, in one of these oddities, a Cain aide was shown smoking a cigarette, to which some people overreacted. Success! Now the story was no longer about how weird Cain was, but how weird people who didn’t like him were.

“Within the realm of things that aren’t serving the country well in the world of politics today, I’d put Herman Cain’s chief of staff puffing a cigarette in an ad way down the list,” said Michelle Malkin. “Two messages: Get the nanny state off my back; Obama lies, smokes & denies,” said Sisu Willis. “Ed Driscoll just retweeted us, so we must be onto something.” (It’s a prairie fire!)

Of newsman and cancer survivor Bob Schieffer, who complained about the smoking, The Right Scoop said he “needs to lighten up a little here… he comes off looking like a crabby schoolmarm here. Not a very professional display on his part.”

“I loathe this idea that we’re all such a bunch of lemmings that, upon seeing something like tobacco use or alcohol consumption or violence in the media, we’ll all immediately begin to emulate the behavior,” said Say Anything. Well, that is ridiculous — the media can only brainwash you with the gay agenda.

Another point rightbloggers offered on behalf of Cain is that people have treated him unfairly. They were mostly talking about liberals who are allegedly engaged in “a peculiar left-wing brand of race-baiting” of the candidate, per Reason‘s Cathy Young.

For example, Lawrence O’Donnell wondered aloud why Cain hadn’t participated in the civic rights movement in his youth. “Even many left-of-center observers, such as columnist Tommy Christopher, were aghast at the spectacle of a white liberal smugly chiding a black man for the personal choices he made in a very difficult time,” said Young.

Well, good for them — so, it’s a Lawrence O’Donnell thing, not a “left-wing” thing? No, Young has more — for instance, in internet comments boxes (normally models of civil debate) Cain has suffered rough treatment — “in comments threads, the vileness reigns almost unchecked,” said Young; “Cain has been labeled a ‘house Negro’ (or worse) and a ‘lawn jockey,’ and mocked in blatantly racist terms.” (Young should check out some of our comments threads.)

Plus some blogger was mean to him. Ergo, racism is “what happens when the left faces a black opponent.” No doubt under orders from the left’s white overseer, Barack Obama.

Other, similar outrages were reported: “Democratic congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland said white voters support Cain to show they aren’t racist,” said Michael Warren at the Weekly Standard. (Of course conservatives frequently assert the same thing about white liberals and Obama.) “It is hard – and will get much harder – to watch the pathetic piranhas of the left denigrate, and attempt to destroy [Cain] – all for the sin of being a successful, conservative black man,” said Constitution Club — who added, for some reason, “can you give us one reason other than the fact that Barack Obama is black which explains his approval ratings among blacks?” Now who’s the racist?

“Things have gone from bad to badder for the self-righteous artsy-fartsy elites, who for all their book-learning and self-regard just can’t figure out America,” said Wesley Pruden at the Washington Times. “…What irks, galls, frustrates and infuriates the East Coast libsnobs is that the Republican embrace of the pizza man destroys the story line they want to reprise from 2008, that only bigots oppose President Obama.” Pruden also told us that “the diehards on the left tried similar insults of Ronald Reagan, too,” which was a shock to us, because we didn’t know Reagan was black.

And if it wasn’t liberals, it was Ron Paul supporters. “Herman Cain Tells Rude Ron Paul Loons: ‘Be Respectful!'” announced Gateway Pundit. “Good for Herman Cain.” And now there’s talk of “the high-tech lynching of Herman Cain .” With liberals, Paulites, and now disgruntled ex-employees on his case, Cain has a good selection of enemies to complain of. Maybe he should set up a Facebook page devoted to the task.

Having far less to protect than Nate Silver, we will say here and now that Herman Cain will not be the Republican Presidential nominee in 2012. The Vice-Presidential nomination is another story. In fact, as Mitt Romney’s ascension grows more likely, it is almost certain that the ticket will have to be balanced — an uninspiring trimmer at the top, a charismatic rightwing fire-breather in the #2 slot to keep the true believers aboard. It didn’t work in 2008, but with the present, persistently crap economy it’s worth trying again.

Even there, though, Cain faces some big hurdles — like Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and possibly Rick Perry, or a lunatic to be named later. In fact, it strikes us now that most of the Republicans allegedly running for President have actually been running for for the Sarah Palin role — which is a good gig in any case; if the ticket fails, he or she can spend a few years stringing along disgruntled followers, soaking up money and adulation, and then bail out, held comfortably aloft by his or her golden parachute. If you’re wondering why these people have been acting so crazy in debates and other public forums, this is as good an explanation as any.

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