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Meet the Latest Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Deborah Mathis: – Date: Monday, May 09, 2011, 5:18 am


Somewhere between online window shopping and organizing the sock drawer, I forgot about the first televised debate among prospective 2012 Republican presidential candidates, which aired on the Fox network Thursday night.

The talk-off brought five would-be nominees before a live audience at the Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina, one of the early primary states. On stage were former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Ron “Run Again” Paul of Texas, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and a relative newcomer to national politics, Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.

Turns out those of us who skipped the debate really missed out on something because, by most accounts, the former head of the pizza chain – as we used to say back in the day – “showed out.”

Journalists and bloggers have been atwitter about Cain’s performance, breathlessly reporting that a South Carolina focus group gave the trophy to the newbie. Nevermind that the focus group consisted of only 30 people; at the end of the night, almost all of them said Cain was their man. Frank Luntz, a long-time GOP showman pollster, was astounded, declaring that Cain’s redoubtable sweep was a first.

In addition to the fact that Cain is a virtual unknown in national political circles – or was – what makes his triumph even more buzz worthy is that he is a black man. A Morehouse and Purdue-educated, middle-aged, one-time lobbyist, big business-loving, evangelical, radio talk show-hosting black man from Atlanta, Georgia.  And he trounced five better known, politically experienced white men in the birthplace of the Confederacy, the homeland of Rep. Joe “You Lie” Wilson and Sen. Jim “Waterloo” DeMint.

It becomes much less surprising once one becomes familiar with Cain’s positions and rhetoric. He is a staunch conservative, not only fiscally, but also socially. Accordingly, he likes to quote Reagan, wants to get rid of the capital gains tax, favors lowering corporate taxes, opposes health care mandates, supports the wars we’re in and touts American exceptionalism, particularly in regards to competition with China.

Nor is the man who is fantasizing about becoming the country’s second black president hesitant about slandering the country’s first black president with vulgar hyperbole like this:  “If you look at this current administration, it is the worst in current history.”

Yes, a Morehouse man said that.

Well, there goes the mystery about an unknown black man leading the small field of wannabes in Greenville last week. He parrots white conservative ideals and brings a bonus to the table in that he could get away with criticizing President Obama without drawing cries of racism.

Then again, maybe not. Cain told one audience that he has already been called a racist for criticizing Obama, so the accusation follows the message, not the messenger.

That is not true, of course, but rather gives lie to the idea that alleging racism is just a convenient device for shutting down discourse – a figment of ideology – and not a real demon.  No wonder the crowd went wild when he told a Tea Party audience, “You are not racists.”

Revealing himself further, Cain also comforted wary whites in one audience by using the obvious in an attempt to establish his independence.

“Some black people can think for themselves,” he said.

Yes, we can. And we think we see a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

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