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By Patty Sharaf with Robert Scheer

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The GOP’s Outsider Within

Posted on Oct 24, 2011
Flickr / Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-SA)

By Marcia Alesan Dawkins

Has the GOP done much for African-Americans since it ended slavery in 1863? The answer is a resounding yes if you talk to presidential candidate Herman Cain, its latest “not hyphenated ABC” (American black conservative).

Cain casts himself as an outsider, a black Main Street CEO who is ready to unleash true innovation and change upon Washington. But he’s really more like an outsider within, as it was revealed recently that the candidate is proud to be on the Koch brothers’ bankroll—aka, Americans for Prosperity. For that reason and others, Cain says he poses a credible threat to President Obama. And, as he tells it, liberals of all backgrounds should be cowering because he is something the president is not: a “real black man.”

As opposed to Obama, who downplayed racial difference when he ran for president, Cain is playing it to the hilt. Sadly, the problem with either of these approaches is that white manhood remains relatively uncharted territory. By exaggerating or ignoring difference, white manhood maintains its status and power as the norm. 

“Nothing could be closer to the truth,” says Ulli K. Ryder, visiting scholar at Brown University. When asked by The New York Times for her take on Cain’s public persona, Ryder said what appears to be on the minds of many. “The larger issue that a lot of people have, and I certainly have, is that he uses a certain kind of minstrelsy to play to white audiences,” she said. “Referencing negative stereotypes in order to get heard [by] a white audience in the 21st century is really a problem.”

Although some supporters find the thought of comparing Cain to a minstrel rather “vulgar,” for Ryder and others it’s on the mark. Cain is frightening because he feeds into a tradition of obsessive entertainment with racial difference. 


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For instance, earlier this year Cain pleased his largely white conservative audience by starting a campaign speech with the vernacular phrase “Awww, shucky ducky!” Cain also commented on his political appeal by referring to himself as a delicious edible product, like “Häagen-Dazs black walnut” ice cream. Cain later explained his fashion choice of gold ties in terms of racial appearance, as the color “happens to look good against this beautiful dark skin.” He referred to African-Americans who do not support him as closed-minded and racially “brainwashed.” And, referencing the nation’s long history of enslavement and escape in “The Herman Cain Get on the Train” music video,” he said that he “left that Democratic plantation a long time ago and … ain’t goin’ back.” It seems that for Cain, liberal racial thinking is a disability to be transcended in our pursuit of a free and freethinking post-race nation. 

Cain’s message is problematic because it moves racial politics into the realm of personal friendship and feeling, diverting attention from historical and structural aspects of racial injustice. Such moves are especially evident in Cain’s strategy of determining who is and isn’t racist. At a recent CPAC conference, Cain addressed his supporters as loyal friends, telling them, “I got a breaking news announcement for you: You are not a racist, you are patriots.” In his campaign video, he made a direct personal appeal to audiences by addressing critics, including outspoken actor Morgan Freeman, who see the tea party as a racist movement. “To those who say the tea party is racist,” Cain retorts, “eat your words.”

Cain’s brand of domestic racial politicking also spills over into his positions on foreign policy concerns such as immigration. Recently Cain “joked” that he would approve the building of an electrified fence at the border to kill anyone who tried to cross without authorization. Eric Lott, professor of American studies at the University of Virginia, explains this strategy in an essay entitled “White Like Me.” Lott writes, “The domination of international others depends on mastering the other at home—and in oneself: an internal colonization which is often exceeded or threatened by the gender and racial arrangements on which it depends.”

Evidently, Cain’s strategy for being taken seriously on the global stage is directly linked to his strategy for being taken seriously at home. Step 1: Highlight stereotypical, surface-level racial difference as quickly and stereotypically as possible. Step 2: Distance yourself ideologically from what racial difference supposedly means (i.e., historical and structural racism) as loudly and unctuously as possible. Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 until your own well-funded political goals are fully masked as a solution to America’s racial and economic distress.

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screamingpalm's avatar

By screamingpalm, October 27, 2011 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

How shallow, how ignorant.

Hello Mr. President Cain.

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By heterochromatic, October 26, 2011 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment

The irony in the specter of two black Republicans possibly vying for the Presidency
is almost too much to bear.


that was a good one.

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By ejreed, October 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

Oakland Police Crackdown on “Occupy” Camp
“Occupy” protests in Oakland turn ugly as police use
teargas and beanbag guns to clear a city park.

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, October 26, 2011 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

@Billy Pilgrim
Alas, I get your sarcasm. 
With respect to all Harvard MBAs, Touche’.

Strange, though, that Cain’s Fed experience is never discussed, or have I missed it?

The OTHER relevant topic I don’t hear about is Cain’s health. 
He looks fine, but is a stage-4 cancer survivor. 
This could carry a huge weight as we go deeper into the election year.

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By grokker, October 26, 2011 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

The irony in the specter of two black Republicans possibly vying for the Presidency is almost too much to bear.

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By Billy Pilgrim, October 25, 2011 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment

Cain was Pres. of K.C. Fed?  Wow, I’m really impressed.
And W has an MBA from Harvard.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment

Now another one of the under-cover nazis blows his cover with a jew-hating rant full of all the typical stereo types: Jewish Bankers, Jewish thieves, Jewish plans to secretly take over the world.  Not that this has ANYTHING to do with Herman Cain’s campaign, but another excuse to “remind” the world of what is “wrong” with Jews.

One of the reasons so many Jews fled Eastern Europe was it was filled with ignorant racist bigots like Balkas.  He usually keeps his hate-speech carefully under wraps but I guess today he got away from himself.

BTW, “Hate Speech” is a violation of the AUP at TD.


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Queenie's avatar

By Queenie, October 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

I don’t see where it matters what color one is - brown, red, white, black, yellow, tan or polkadot as far as being a conservative. But this man is no conservative. He is way too over the top to be called conservative in any true sense of the word. Same goes for the rest of the so-called “conservatives” of both parties. They are destructionist radicals. They want to destroy our hard earned rights and take us back to a time where slavery flourished and women were denied full citizenship.

No. Cain is more like a Step’n Fetchit, dancing to the tune of his racist masters. There is nothing he would not do to gain their approval.

I feel sorry for him. He is a tool and a fool.

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, October 25, 2011 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

Cain’s running ads on Rush Limbaugh’s show now, nationwide.
They played the first one today.

Cain needs a 50-state campaign. 
Can’t afford to repeat Giuliani’s mistake.

It bears repeating:
The true test for Cain comes when it’s time to start securing committed convention delegates.

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, October 25, 2011 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

@Inherit the Wind, you write:
“When John Lewis was putting his life on the line, Herman Cain was hiding under the bed.”

You’ve been watching Lawrence O’Donnell, haven’t you? 

Nearly 6 years John Lewis’s junior, Cain was still in high school when Lewis joined the SNCC.  Later in the 60’s, Cain was a student at Morehouse and Purdue.

He also worked for the Dept. of the Navy.
Cain’s Burger King - Godfathers Pizza experience is oft-portrayed by the Mainstream Media.
But he was also President of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank.
It’s curious (well maybe not) that the MSM virtually ignores this. 

You can read his bio on any number of links, but he nothing in his background suggests hiding anywhere.

Honestly, he doesn’t seem the type, now does he?

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By SarcastiCanuck, October 25, 2011 at 7:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr.Cain may be in his own words,‘A Real Black Man’.What he fails to tell the public as well is that he is also ‘A Real Wingnut’.You can be any race,creed or color to belong to that group…

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By balkas, October 25, 2011 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

hey kids, wld it shake u if i said u.s shld not be viewed as a nation or as a
lawful nation.
u.s is best understood as a region, a non-nation; with its thousand and one
ethnics [nations, if u like] living in great lawlessness-immorality.

for a long time, the darling-master nation of that region had been the anglos.
they wrote the ‘laws’, interpreted them, executed them, etc. they, mainly,
indicted, prosecuted, and punished the less-valued people.

then came ashkenazim [plural of ashkenazi]; now called ‘jews’ even tho they are
not a bit shemitic. and anglosaxons, for the first time, got the best money
thieves ever known on their side.

anglos were good robbers, but compared to ‘jews’, what can i say that u won’t

and that’s why we have israel. its presence holds all of us captives, disunited
about it, etc. and disunity always oh so good for plutos. so why not generate it?

no dear supremacists, u cannot separate a law from morality. and i mean not
only law but also a diktat, fiat, or ukase which only lawyers/judges interpret or

damn it, they always seem to ‘know’ and we never! now u know all about cain,
bachmann [i think she’s chermann and not ‘jewish’?] o’bombbama, newt, palin
and where they are headed. tnx

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By ardee, October 25, 2011 at 5:44 am Link to this comment

By ThomasBG, October 24 at 11:18 pm

I deliberated for a time over whether a response to this smelly post was wise or necessary. Some things should be allowed to crawl into a corner and die unheeded.

But then I thought that a suggestion to this sad sack was in order. Tommie old boy, use the search engine of your choice and enter the phrase White Supremacists, or American Nazi Party into it. There you will find allies and supporters for your crap.

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, October 25, 2011 at 4:44 am Link to this comment

@PeopleOVERGreed—to paraphrase the immortal GW Bush, “you’ve mis-underestimating Cain.”

But I agree with your “shiny object” analysis as applied to cartoon candidates like Trump and especially Palin.
Palin never had the chops to go this far on her own, she was just an effective decoy to distract the mainstream media so candidates like Cain would have a chance to flourish.  And, of course, to make lots of money for herself (not that that’s a bad thing). 

Now Bachmann is the place-holder for women, Gingrich sticks around for the debates. Rick Santorum isn’t on the team, but gets to be water-boy.
Paul makes too much sense to be ignored, except by those who fear him. 
He’ll stick it out to the end, but, like the others above, has no chance. 

So, with still over a year to go, here’s what I see:

Jobs will be the #1 issue and Perry has a real track record. Say what you will, he can’t be counted out. 

Romney has money, and serious creds in BOTH political and business arenas. 
The likely nominee, though still too soon to be sure.

And then Cain. I like his plain-speak and he has a plan.  And he’s not afraid of his critics.
I’ll support Cain as long as I’m Abel.
If he’s flavor of the month then it’s gonna be a long month. (and, unless you’re allergic to nuts, who doesn’t like black walnut ice cream??) 
Cain’s real test will be in securing committed convention delegates. 
Too soon to count him in or out before then.

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By PeopleOVERgreed, October 25, 2011 at 12:12 am Link to this comment

Best I can tell. Herman Cain is the next Sarah Palin in a recent line of shiney objects used by the GOP establishment to distract voters. A political bait and switch, if you will. Palin for woman and Cain for minorities. I believe this is progress, at least the GOP is acknowledging the issue of the good o’le white boys club.

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By Tom Edgar, October 24, 2011 at 11:18 pm Link to this comment


Nope just a halfway intelligent response.

Having just returned to civilisation from Texas, and listening to the average Republican, then placing their observations in juxtaposition with the abysmal average educational standards enjoyed by Americans (18th in the advanced countries.” I can understand how a person Black, White or any other hue. with the mental capacity to do so would use party politics to bamboozle the politically illiterate voters.

To put that into perspective I was once a Federal Government prospective candidate, until my wife reminded me that I never took orders, and I only had one over riding ambition which was for respectability
We both left the Party soon after. (She was the Party’s President of the District Electoral Committee.)

I have never voted for a PARTY candidate since and in my country voting is compulsory, and incidentally, compared to the American system blatantly honest.

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By ThomasBG, October 24, 2011 at 11:18 pm Link to this comment

If Cain is going to ignore the subject of the global white genocide program he has no credibility.

Africans,Asia for the Asians,white countries for EVERYBODY!

Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.

The Netherlands and Belgium are just as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.

Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites.

What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into EVERY black country and ONLY into black countries?

How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?

And how long would it take any sane black man to notice this and what kind of psycho black man wouldn’t object to this?

But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives alike say I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white.

Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

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By heterochromatic, October 24, 2011 at 8:35 pm Link to this comment

—-IOW, Cain assumes Blacks are just as stupid as Whites.—-

certainly a reasonable assumption.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 24, 2011 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment

The assumption by Herman Cain that Black people are stupid enough to vote for him because he claims to be “Blacker” than Obama can only have any reasonable basis because many White people voted for McCain solely because he was Whiter than Obama (something I’m sure McCain would never admit, even to himself).

IOW, Cain assumes Blacks are just as stupid as Whites.  While that may be true, Blacks are still not stupid enough to trust any Republican, even a Black one.  Cain MIGHT have had an edge if he was the first Black to have a shot at the Presidency, but Obama already has that, so it’s not “The First” anymore.  Besides, Blacks DO know that virtually every Republican since Reagan came to office is out to roll back all the gains that previous generations of Republicans helped bring about.  You don’t have to be as brilliant as Henry Louis Gates to know that Republicans are the new Dixiecrats.  Hispanics, the largest minority in the US, know it too.

When John Lewis was putting his life on the line, Herman Cain was hiding under the bed.  It’s as simple as that.

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By James M. de Laurier, October 24, 2011 at 7:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Marcia Alesan Dawkins,      10/24/2011
          For starters,if enough people consider
Herman Cain seriously,we would have a serious
problem.His ranting would last how long as president?
He is absolutely and unequivocally no threat to
president Obama.He is an entertainer and opportunistic shill.Referring to himself as a
delicious product,ask a psychologists what that might
represent.What an ego!The fact is,is that we are all
in deep trouble now and will (except for the
patriots)suffer the consequences of this Circus we
call politics.
Thanking you for this opportunity to comment -
James M. de Laurier
Know Who your friendenmies are.

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By heterochromatic, October 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment

      ——- “Black+Republican=Oxymoron’——-


someone die and left you in charge of deciding what political opinions are
suitable for black people?

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By Tom Edgar, October 24, 2011 at 3:48 pm Link to this comment


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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, October 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

Another poster on another thread recently wrote:
“Republicans cannot STAND Democratic Presidents having successful war efforts.”

He’s right, of course. 
Nobody likes having their trademarked brands stolen.

For the same reason, the Left voices visceral opposition when conservative Blacks like Clarence Thomas and Thomas Sowell surface.

Conservative Blacks run conter to the branding.

And now, Herman Cain?

That there hasn’t yet been the same venom in their opposition to this point is testimony to Cain’s still-slim chances of gaining the nomination. 
Should he solidify his front-runner position and actually start securing a majority of committed delegates early next year, you’ll really see the fur fly.

The election is still over a year off, but I hope Cain remains Abel just to see it all unfold.
It should be mighty interesting.

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By KittatinyHawk, October 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Black, Republican is an insult to those who have fought for their Rights.  I find the Headline racially toned and tired of the Race Headline bs.

I wish the People of the Black Culture boot the GOP/TP out of their lives.  These were the Slave Drivers not those fighting to end slavery, they still hire third world Country People and your own to do their bidding.
It is a shame that so much smoke has been blown in front of your eyes.  Same with other Nationalities, these people who prompt you to become Republican would have you in shackels and working for pennies a day.  They have no respect for Jobs, Healthcare, Environment.  They shudder when any of you move into their neighborhoods.  Grow up and read the writing on the Wall, start your own Party but stop backing these Racial Robots.

Mr Cain had sounded intelligent, but I knew it was too good to be true.

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By deGrene, October 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great—just what we need: another swaggering, self-styled Macho Man who struts around like he has accute constipation and goes out of his way to prove he’s really a man and not just a boy playing pretend.

I thought we’d had enough of that crap with the Bushes and their buddies.

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By The 99%, October 24, 2011 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Cain appears to be a blind racist, as per the David Chapelle skit; a leap into incredulity; perhaps only surpassed by Glen Beck and his query,“What is this ‘Planet of the Apes here?,” regarding President Obama’s first year. Where one can understand Mr. Beck’s confusion, Cain’s case is more clinical.

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By Rodney, October 24, 2011 at 11:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Uncle Herman Cain Tom serves one purpose,to say things white Republicans think and believe but are too afraid to say. Getting paid by the Koch boys and selling books makes him say things even more outrageous. Herman Cain don’t have the balls to go into the parts of Chicago where Obama was a community organizer and tell them that they are brainwashed and it’s their fault that they are not rich and it’s their fault that they are unemployed. If he is a real black man let him go to Detroit, Phildelphia,Baltimore Newark and Harlem and let’s see if he is the black man he claims to be.

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By Anarcissie, October 24, 2011 at 11:00 am Link to this comment

Herman Cain seems to be, like most politicians, a vulgar huckster.  One can hardly hold this against him; it’s one of the unpleasant requirements of the business he’s in.  Being Black, he might as well exploit the advantages of the category, as others have done.

It is no doubt true that many ‘conservatives’ enjoy being washed of the taint of racial preference by Mr. Cain, but again, they are hardly different from White liberals in this regard, going back to the hip upper-middle-class cocktail parties of the midcentury with their token Negroes.  It is true the structural, objective facts of race discrimination will not be solved by Cain, but neither were they solved or even mitigated by any other great leaders, with the possible exceptions of Lyndon Johnson (Voting Right Act) and Richard Nixon (Affirmative Action).  (No wonder no one likes them now!)  However, it does seem wonderful to me that right-wingers and ‘conservatives’ are celebrating the accomplishments and abilities of a Black man, even if he is a crank.  We inch forward.

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By ardee, October 24, 2011 at 10:18 am Link to this comment

The (offensive) term “Oreo” comes immediately to mind.

This position by Cain is almost incredulous, and I wonder how it will play in the black community, The man is a hustler and a huckster, about as sincere as a cheesy smile on a used car salesman.

How, I wonder, does this statement by Cain equivocate to his position that ,“if you don’t have a job you are to blame” or his stated goal of ending entitlements so necessary to so many at the bottom end of our economy?

This man has been, for the last several years, making money as a motivational speaker and a supposed self-help guru. In other words, a con man.

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