a.k.a. who wants to watch me tip toe very carefully around racial issues?
So Herman Cain is polling pretty well these days. Really well, in the last Zogby poll. Nate Silver's latest article about his prospects is interesting, and the one he wrote back in May is even more interesting, and I'm in the awkward situation of admitting that I really know next to nothing about the guy. I don't know whether to file him away in my head along with Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Ross Perot, or Bob Dole. It seems like Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic has taken kind of a special interest in him, which is both a good and a bad sign. Friedersdorf used to guest blog for Andrew Sullivan quite a bit, and I generally was impressed with a lot of his writing...but less impressed with how impressed he was by Ron Paul. But yeah, I'm about a mile away from trying to guess exactly what kind of Republican Herman Cain is.
Which leaves me with the obvious, which is that he's black. I'm pretty sure I have no sympathy for the idea that there's something automatically wrong with being a black Republican...he has as much right to disagree with me about the discentivising aspects of a comprehensive social safety net as anybody else. Apparently he gets a lot of play out of claiming that blacks who vote for the Democratic party have been brainwashed, which is pretty off-putting, but at the same time I don't know that I'm the type to condemn someone for being hyperpartisan. So I dunno. I guess the question I have at the moment is what exactly this says about the Republican Party, which I am more or less familiar with. Or if not Herman Cain specifically, how about the fact that since Obama won the Democratic nomination, the two most high profile people who have been selected by the Republicans on the national stage have been Sarah Palin, and Michael Steele (I guess technically Boehner breaks this trend, but I'm going to ignore him for convenience's sake) and if Herman Cain does manage to bag the nomination, he will be the culmination of a very interesting pattern. Sarah Palin's nomination was pretty obviously an embarrassment...a distilled version of every cynical thought that the Republican party has about tokenism and affirmative action, come back to bite them in the ass. For a while I thought Michael Steele was basically a repetition of the same pattern, but I've kind of revised that opinion after seeing him on the Daily Show after his chairmanship. He actually comes across as a pretty intelligent and competent guy, for a Republican. Obviously it's not a coincidence that the Republican party followed the election of the first black president by immediately electing their first black chairman, and if Herman Cain gets nominated this year I don't doubt it will be partially because of sentiments like this...but I guess my question is: if that means the 2012 Presidential Debates wind up being between our current black President and a black conservative Republican nomine, is that a bad thing? Or is this how change happens?
(Obviously it's a bad thing if Herman Cain turns out to be a farce of a candidate on the level of Sarah Palin, or if he has no interest in being anything as a candidate aside from the perfect vehicle for conservative resentment of Barack Obama's success, but so far I don't see much reason to assume that's the case).