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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Point of View Columns

Is Cain Able?

Sarah “Lock and Load” Palin wants to call him “Herb”, but lots of people are getting to know who Herman Cain is. This is great news for Herman Cain Enterprises as he has skillfully used the platform of his presidential campaign to sell his books (his latest is appropriately titled “This is Herman Cain!”) and to hike his average speaking engagement fee when his campaign ends. This would be a riff on the Alan Keyes routine of getting rich by running for president. Indeed, Herman Cain reminds me of Alan Keyes, but with a better resume.

Mr. Cain continues to make mini-headlines by telling an unemployed worker to “get a job and get rich” because clearly, on the Planet Cain, that’s all one has to do. The combination of hard work, good fortune and opportunity don’t have a thing to do with financial success.

Mr. Cain repeatedly points out that he has no experience in government as if that is a qualification for being President of the United States. If he really believed that lack of experience is an asset one wonders what the hiring policies at Godfather’s Pizza were like when he was chairman. It also has to be noted that, like so many of the other G.O.Tea Party denizens, Herman Cain has a rocky relationship with the truth.

Mr. Cain served as a board member and then chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. That is not an honorary sinecure and it certainly is a very serious part of government. Mr. Cain was also a senior advisor to the Dole-Kemp presidential campaign which tells us that he is not exactly the pure political virgin that he pretends to be.

When questioned about his knowledge of foreign policy Herman Cain proudly proclaims his ignorance. He stated that he doesn’t need to know about “small, insignificant countries” and that he would have advisors who would tell him what he needs to know in that regard.

Cain is wrong in so many ways on this. First, Afghanistan used to be a “small, insignificant country” until thousands of Americans were killed through attacks that were plotted there. Yemen, Somalia, Serbia, Rwanda and the not so small Democratic Republic of the Congo might be insignificant on the Planet Cain, but on the planet Earth worldly knowledge and international awareness are critical.

As for “advisors”, we have in recent history the example of President George W. Bush being famously lazy when it came to the details of foreign policy. “Advisors like Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice and Rumsfeld plunged this country into the bloody maw of unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan pursuing a flawed neo-con foreign policy that never had a chance of succeeding. One can only shudder at the thought of a simplistic President Cain being led by foreign policy “advisors” who have agendas that are of no interest to him but could wreck the world.

Herman Cain gets plenty of support from the G.O.Tea Party for saying that there is no racism in the dens and klaverns where the tea partiers gather. When reminded of the clearly racists signage that accompanied the rise of the Tea Party (President Obama with a bone through his nose, for example), he dismisses these occurrences by announcing that those signs don’t appear anymore.

Even Pollyanna would know that the signs have been put away but not thrown away. And even if they have been thrown away for reasons of “political correctness” the hearts of those sign makers and sign carriers are still stained with racism.
And someone should advise Mr. Cain while he sits in his post-racial bubble of delusion that the G.O.Tea Party is not opposing the first black president in order to elect another black president.

The Cain phenomenon is indicative of a truly frightening aspect of the G.O.Tea Party presidential candidacy clown show. There is truly a race to the bottom being played out when it comes to information, awareness and knowledge. Not knowing has become a badge of honor. Not caring about facts and accuracy are surefire applause lines. Denying climate change, believing that Adam and Eve walking with dinosaurs should be taught in public schools, deriding the importance of “small and insignificant countries” is all very dangerous. Knowledge takes hard work. Ignorance is easy.

It has been said that no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American public. I only hope that this doesn’t also hold true for presidential elections.

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