I’ve thought about this issue a lot; far more than this short post will give any sense of.
I’ll rely on Rush Limbaugh’s formulations because he is the only commentator for which any criticism by a Republican will lead to a near death experience. Ergo he must be the GOP ideal.
When Barrack Obama’s nomination seemed a very distant possibility in 2007 Rush had a field day beating up Hillary Clinton by suggesting that Democrats would be too timid to attempt to nominate the truly stellar Obama. In this odd way Rush practically dared Democrats to nominate Obama and court defeat at the hands of a nation of racist voters. As an Obama supporter myself I made a mental note of this. It occurred to me that this was a not very subtle way to encourage the Democrats to do what GOP strategists wanted them to – nominate a black candidate and lose.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the voting booths that Rush and company never expected. America wasn’t all that racist a nation anymore, not even the senior citizens who were the most reliable voters (and subsequent Tea Party members).
When Obama was actually elected there was shock among the GOP pundits but I don’t think it was just shock. I think that they, like the nation as a whole, were proud that the nation had defied 300 years worth of ugly past despite the cynical GOP calculation that American’s weren’t evolved enough to vote for a Black Presidential candidate.
Obama could count on a brief honeymoon but the business of politics never rests for long. It didn’t take long for Limbaugh to begin describing Obama as an ultra-leftist even though he has led more from the Center.
Democrats have responded by calling the GOP racists. I think this helps explain the Republicans love affair with the Pizza baron, Herman Cain. Herman has gotten positive rating well beyond any reasonable evaluation of his chances in the Party. I think there are several explanations for this. First and foremost Mr. Cain’s support is a cover for the very real discomfort many Republicans feel toward Obama with his African/Arabic name. Republicans are so geared to thinking of Black politicians as liberals that its not a stretch for them to think the “ultra liberal” shtick has merit.
Cain not only allows Republicans to disguise their mild prejudices but he gives them a jolly outlet to beat up Obama. Its kind of like watching cat’s fight even if Obama is ignoring Cain. My own take on Cain is that he seems to be one of those blacks who resent Obama’s success because Obama doesn’t really hew from the traditional black experience. His father wasn’t descended from American slavery and his Mother was a white Kansas girl who willingly married him. Younger African Americans don’t think the same way because times have changed but older blacks haven’t forgotten how rare such parings were in the 1960’s before the Loving case when many states had anti-miscegenation laws.
To me Herman Cain sounds a lot like a southern black preacher with punch lines not unlike those of George Jefferson. I’m a little embarrassed for the GOP to see them so smitten with Herman.
As this post posits I think it will be the economy more than race that determines the outcome of the 2112 race. That won’t stop the GOP from milking the issue for all its worth provided Herman Cain keeps giving them cover.