THE DAY AFTER Herman Cain's dazzling victory in the Florida straw poll, I commented to a Republican neighbor -- and where I live, there aren't many of those -- that with Cain as a GOP rock star, liberals who have been so ready to smear President Obama's critics as racist would have to come up with a new shtick.Read the rest of it. Jacoby goes on to give examples that are already being offered by lefties to support the idea that Cain is just being used to hide Republican racism.
What was I thinking?
Racial McCarthyism has been a staple of left-wing political rhetoric for years, but it went into overdrive with the rise of Barack Obama. Former president Jimmy Carter, for example, claimed that much of the backlash to the president's policies was explained by "the fact that he is a black man." Janeane Garofalo, the movie actress and liberal activist, called Tea Party protesters "racist rednecks" with one motivation: "This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up." Obama himself has sometimes played the race card; as a candidate in 2008 he predicted that Republicans would "try to make you afraid of me" by focusing on his color: "He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"
Of course such accusations are grotesque canards. But cynics and partisan ideologues have never been terribly squeamish about trafficking in ugly innuendoes to win votes, especially when a complacent media lets them get away with it. Still, you might have thought that surging Republican support for a proud black entrepreneur -- an up-from-segregation business star who summarizes his identity as "ABC: American first, black second, and conservative third" -- would make it tough even for cynics and ideologues to keep singing from the same racial hymnal.
Not a chance.
I'm sure there are some political strategists who look at the Cain campaign as a way to finally split the black vote and take some support from Obama. Forget about it. It's not going to happen. Within the black community Cain will be portrayed as an Uncle Tom, someone who isn't "down with the struggle" and who has dared leave the liberal plantation. We saw that just the other day when he was grilled on MSNBC because he hadn't taken part in civil rights marches.
And Al Sharpton is questioning whether Cain is "authentically black", because to qualify under Sharpton's rules you have to believe certain things and that includes the whole liberal orthodoxy.
So, there are lots of good reasons to support Herman Cain's candidacy, but don't do it if you think it's going to relieve any racial tensions, because it's not. It may, in fact, make them worse.
UPDATE: Cain's appearance today on CNN won't win him any friends in the racial grievance community:
As for African Americans who remain economically disadvantaged, Cain said they often only had themselves to blame.
“They weren't held back because of racism,” Cain said. “People sometimes hold themselves back because they want to use racism as an excuse for them not being able to achieve what they want to achieve.”