By Anonymous (not verified) on June 29, 2011

Don’t purchase your tickets to a Herman Cain inaugural ball just yet.

In a dismal Republican field for the 2012 presidential nomination, the former CEO of Godfather Pizza has often done better in straw polls and at debates than his more well-known challengers. A recent poll from Iowa showed him coming in third behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.

His surprising showing has led some to speculate that he could be the sleeper candidate arising from nowhere to miraculously seize the nomination or even the presidency.

But ultimately his unimaginative agenda, inexperience and extremist positions are likely to create insurmountable obstacles. And whether Cain, an African-American, wants to acknowledge it or not, race does matter.

Cain favors lower taxes, a repeal of Obama’s health care bill, elimination of the capital gains tax, spending cuts and other standard Republican ideas. He is against abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and thinks homosexuality is a sin.

He may state his views more articulately than Sarah Palin, with more vigor than Tim Pawlenty, and with equal bombast as Newt Gingrich, but in the end he goes nowhere new or compelling.

Where he does stand out is with his egregious views regarding Muslims. Cain has a long record of bias and baseless statements against Islam. Despite laws on the books prohibiting religious discrimination and his own experience growing up under racial segregation, when asked would he be comfortable appointing a Muslim to either his cabinet or as a federal judge, Cain replied, “I will not.”

The firestorm ignited by that remark in March caused Cain to attempt to backtrack. It wasn’t long, however, before he repeated the remark and defended his antagonism toward the entire Islamic religion.

Cain’s inability to spin his way out of trouble reflects also his inexperience in politics. He has never been elected to a political office and the one time he did run for the U.S. Senate, he was crushed by his opponent.

Sadly, Cain continues the deplorable tradition of exploiting his race while professing to be colorblind. Like many GOP black conservatives, he banks on his blackness. Cain has even stated that he is a “real black man” compared to Obama, implying that his upbringing in segregated Georgia gives him a special dispensation around blackness that the latter does not possess.

Similar to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was also raised under Georgia’s apartheid system, Cain seems to define “real” blackness by the degree of one’s experience with racial venom and ostracizing. And in his view, black support for Democrats is tantamount to refusing to leave the plantation rather than a rational choice based on the actual policies presented by the two major parties.

Cain provides a useful veneer for the overt racial animosity that has manifest itself against Obama over the last two years — especially at the Republican base. This anger coincides with a recent Harvard/Tufts study that reveals whites feel they are more discriminated against than blacks.

The irony is that Cain’s blackness, which he trumpets consistently, may be one more reason he’ll have difficulty winning the Republican nomination.

Clarence Lusane is program director/associate professor at the Comparative and Regional Studies Program in the International Service at American University

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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