Point of View Columns

Cain Mutiny

For a while it seemed as if Herman Cain was playing the Alan Keyes role in the 2012 Republican primary process. As a perennial presidential candidate (1996, 2000, 2008) and erstwhile senatorial candidate (1988, 1992, 2004) Keyes has always been destined to fail in his electoral ambitions while lining his pockets from increased attention to his books, radio show, television show and speaking engagements. Herman Cain has seemed to be a well-heeled Alan Keyes with a slightly better resume.

But there is more to Herman Cain than meets the eye. It has been noted that, despite his prideful contention that he is a political virgin, he was a senior political advisor to the Dole-Kemp campaign in 1996. Despite his wearing his disdain for public service as some bizarro badge of honor he served as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City – not exactly a private sector position. And there’s more……….

Since 2006 Mr. Cain, the independent businessman, has been a virtual employee and paid spokesman for Americans for Prosperity (“AFP”). If AFP doesn’t ring a bell, it isn’t supposed to. But it is the political action arm of the ultraconservative billionaire Koch brothers who have also bankrolled the Tea Party movement.

Traveling around the country as its erstwhile charismatic badwill ambassador, Herman Cain has built up membership for AFP and touted its message of reducing taxes, reducing government and eliminating environmental and financial regulations wherever possible.

Mr. Cain’s connection to AFP and the Koch brothers is even more pronounced than his employment. His campaign manager, Mark Block is a former AFP employee. The wacky “9-9-9” pseudo tax plan was devised by an AFP board member and the Cain campaign uses the AFP outside counsel for its legal advice and services.

What are interesting are not the facts themselves. We should not be surprised that Herman Cain would align himself with the not so secret financiers of the right wing of the right wing. What is interesting is that in addition to his never mentioning his role with the Dole-Kemp campaign or the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, Mr. Cain has never managed to whisper a mention of his work as a paid spokesman for the Koch brothers.

His campaign organization has Koch operatives in key positions and his boasting of his independence doesn’t ring true when he has two billionaires, and their billionaire buddies as his benefactors. His speeches and statements could come right out of an AFP press kit, which isn’t surprising since he has been working for AFP and the Koch brothers for half a decade.

Herman Cain rose to national prominence when he debated President Bill Clinton regarding the health care proposals of more than a decade ago. He claimed then, as he does now, that requiring employers to provide health insurance for their employees would force his company, Godfather’s Pizza, to fire hundreds of workers. While he did not provide the statistics to justify his claim later research indicated that during the time that Herman Cain made millions of dollars as the Chairman and CEO of that pizza chain only 11% of the employees of that company were provided with health care coverage (including Herman Cain). Not surprisingly and not unlike the Koch brothers and their ilk, Mr. Cain still does not recognize the inequity of this situation and has promised to repeal the recently passed health care bill when he is elected president.

Through the AFP and other ventriloquist mechanisms, the Koch brothers are calling for the dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency as well as the evisceration of the social services apparatus that has sustained this nation for more than half a century. The “9-9-9” tax proposal is just a Koch head fake as their real goal is the reduction, if not the elimination of all tax liabilities on corporations and their wealthy owners. That is the tune that Herman Cain is singing.

It remains to be seen whether Herman Cain will ride off into the sunset to reap his Keyesian rewards or will continue his presidential campaign in order to continue to spout the Koch party line. In either case it is clear that it would be too much to ask for Mr. Cain to come clean regarding his true identity as a mouthpiece for a neoconservative apparatus that is bankrolled by billionaires intent on demonstrating the true nature of class warfare in the 21st century.

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