High-Tech Tokenism

The corpse of Herman Cain's candidacy will linger and emit noises, like gas escaping from each end, despite being killed by five (and counting) accusations of sexual harassment.

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Nov 8 2011, 4:40am

Herman Cain, who’s been accused of sexual harassment by five (and counting) women, is pretty much done as a candidate, no matter what the polls show. Still, the corpse will linger and emit noises, like gas escaping from each end. Some people will continue to throw donations at it, like it's a sanctified body that cures ACORNs or gayness, but they're examples of The Market correcting for idiots having too much money.

He still serves a purpose, though now as a racial sideshow instead of a crazy policy sideshow. The GOP needs black candidates; he still is one, and that's all the math you need. Things started trending downhill for the GOP after Rutherford B. Hayes and went off the cliff when the party absorbed all the Dixiecrats, adopted the Southern Strategy, and started using anti-federalist, anti-entitlement, and "traditional" code words to suggest images of hulking negroes having sex with "their country" to white voters. In terms of the black community, the GOP has an image problem of its own creation, thanks to almost every image of the black community it’s hinted at since 1968.

Things haven't gotten better lately, which is why real-life locust Ann Coulter declared, "Our [conservative] blacks are so much better than [liberal] blacks.... Google Allen West, Michael Steele or Herman Cain." After 40 years of leveraging dog-whistle racist buzzwords into mandates to cut programs that help blacks, Coulter has to scream, "HE SHOWED ME HIS MONEEEEEYYY. I LOOOOVE [OUR] BLAAAAACK PEOPLLLLE!"

She has to stick up for Michael Steele and pretend the GOP base didn't treat him like a directionless nincompoop for two years. She has to champion Allen West's 10 months of congressional experience. She has to pretend that Alan Keyes—the human abortion sideshow—isn't someone the GOP cynically shipped to Illinois, a state he had never lived in, to run against noted fellow black person Barack Obama in 2004.

The cynicism of defending Cain is hilarious coming from "culture" warriors like Limbaugh and Hannity. They've spent three years insinuating that the president is a crypto Muslindonesiachurian candidate; now, when confronted with three different women claiming that Cain offered to play whack-a-mouth with them, they're crying, "Whoa! Where's the evidence?"

With Cain's chances cratering, his only value is letting GOPers embrace racial tokenism as a PR move to put Democrats on the defensive. Hence Coulter's line about "our blacks"—to reaffirm that the GOP has them—or conservative pundits making excuses for levels of power-abusing infidelity that sound just like Richard Mellon Scaife-funded "documentaries" about Bill Clinton.

The most cynical tactic so far has been parroting Clarence Thomas's nauseating appropriation of the suffering of blacks under Jim Crow, " a high-tech lynching," which he used to describe a congressional inquiry into why he plucked hairs off his balls and garnished a subordinate's soda can with them. Of course, mimicking Thomas to appeal to black voters is funny in its own right, since the only thing that could show more contempt for black people than Clarence Thomas's judicial opinions would be a picture of him trying to fire up a pile of briquettes at a barbecue by jamming a kerosene-soaked cross in the middle of it and standing impotently a few feet away with one of those long clicky lighters.

Championing Cain says, "Look, black America! We told you we liked 'the good ones'!" and, "Really, he's one of the good ones!" You don't over-commit to the defense of an underqualified black candidate and potential pervert if you don't spend the other days of the year campaigning to end social programs that benefit black people, to incarcerate them at ludicrous rates, and to strip them of their right to vote.

Claiming Cain is the victim of "liberal" racism is a nice way of defending his blackness without embracing it. Michelle Bachmann might reprise her embarrassing "YOU BE DA MAN!" routine, but nobody's on the hook for an awkward hug. It sticks up for Cain less by making him an equal and more by trying to push political critics beneath him. "Herman Cain: Democratic Racism and Press-Smear Victim" simultaneously whitewashes GOP racism while making Herman Cain's problems merely part of the fundamental sickness of liberalism.

Take Limbaugh's fatuous statement about Cain: "What's next, folks? A cartoon on MSNBC showing Herman Cain with huge lips eating a watermelon?" When an old race baiter like Limbaugh starts in on the defense of any minority in the face of racism, you're witnessing a textbook definition of someone protesting too much. Oh, Lawsy, Rush, where would  someone get that idea?

@Mobute