Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Actually, I think amazing may not be sufficient, perhaps “astonishing” is more appropriate. I am speaking, of course, about the Herman Cain phenomenon. I don’t know what one might call it other than a phenomenon, and a strange one at that. Day before yesterday Rachel Maddow provided what I regard as a rather brilliant expose of Herman Cain’s candidacy. She demonstrated that virtually every one of his statements and claims were traceable to essentially silly roots in the media. His initial quote of a poet came from Pokeyman, his 9-9-9 plan came from the video game Sim City, and his famous line “I am the Koch brothers brother from another mother” from some stupid movie. There seems little doubt these allegations are correct. Maddow wants to paint Cain as a “performance artist” who is basically just “pulling our leg.” She thinks he wanted to be exposed as such and thinks the only reason he has not been so exposed is that most of the audience just doesn’t get it. The implication of this is that he had no intention of ever becoming a serious candidate and now is having trouble getting out of that role. I think Maddow is probably correct in her assessment, but I would not describe him as a performance artist, rather a practical joker, a truly great practical joker perhaps, but a merely a practical joker nonetheless. If you did not see Maddow’s presentation of this you should have.

Maddow thinks we are being “punk’d” by a person who thought he would be exposed before he got this far. She believes he never believed he would be taken seriously for this long. Personally, I agree he has not been serious. What serious candidate for President would admit such awesome ignorance of political affairs? He says he has no idea what a neo-conservative is, he makes fun of some small country (that happens to be of importance) in central Asia, he is unaware that China has had nuclear energy since the l960’s, and so on. These are not indicative of someone who has a serious interest in becoming President.

But what is truly astonishing about this is that he continues to receive rather substantial contributions from supporters and continues to engage in the Republican “debates” as if he is a serious candidate. No one seems to be in the least bit concerned with the fact that he is basically a practical joker or a performance artist. This could be, I suppose, because Maddow’s expose has not been widely disseminated. I’m pretty certain that those who would be supporting Cain are not followers of the Rachel Maddow Show. There may be others aware of what she has exposed but simply refuse to believe her. It could also be the case that some of his supporters simply do not care if he has used completely nonsensical materials for his campaign, they just do not want Romney or Perry. It could also be that most people do not want to admit they have been taken in by a practical joke.

More importantly, it may be that Herman Cain’s problem with sexual harassment has just completely obscured his performance art or practical joking. Given the media obsession with sexual matters this is quite likely the case. There are now at least four, perhaps six, and maybe even more women who have complained of sexual misbehavior on the part of Herman Cain. One of them has become public with her accusations, apparently one other is about to go public, and who knows about the others. With so many accusers there would seem to be some substance to the claim that he was/is some form of sexual predator. Cain seems to be taking the position that all of these women are lying and making false accusations, and he claims to not know who any of them are and has, in essence, no memory of any of them. I suppose in one sense he has to take this position, but it could be the case that as he regarded all of them simply as sex objects he does have no recollection of any of them as persons.

I of course don’t know if Herman Cain is guilty of anything or not, but with four to six accusers it is difficult to believe there might not be something to the charges. His claim that it is the “Democrat machine” behind the charges is obviously nonsensical, especially as the accusers are not all Democrats, and Gloria Allred, the attorney for one of them has gone after Democratic offenders as well as Republicans in the past. His claim that “they” will do anything to keep a businessman from becoming President is equally nonsensical. What I find truly astonishing, however, is that here is a man with no qualifications for the Presidency whatsoever, probably just a practical joker or performance artist, who admits to almost total ignorance of the most basic things one would expect a candidate to know, is not only continuing to compete for the highest office in the world, but continues to raise money and is, in fact one of the leading contenders at the moment. If you do not find this amazing, or even astonishing, I would have to question your sanity. I fully expect Cain to quickly go the way of Palin, Trump, Bachmann, Santorum, and other absurd pretenders, if not I will admit to being a “Monkey’s uncle.” I confess, however, that I do not want to see a genuine practical joker (or performance artist) go completely unappreciated. At this moment in time perhaps a phony this clever, and of this magnitude, actually deserves to be President.

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.

H. L. Mencken

No comments: