By his own admission, Herman Cain is a black man who doesn’t want to be considered an African-American. In other words, he doesn’t want his race to be the central issue in his push for the White House. He’d rather people focus on the fact that he knows firsthand what the American Dream really is, and what it means for everyone who’s willing to work hard to achieve it. (Remember his words “I was po before I was poor,” signifying that he came from less than nothing to where he is today based on hard work.)
What has the Republican establishment worried is that Cain is a conservative black man who doesn’t want to be considered an African-American. In other words, this guy is serious when he talks about doing away with the EPA, or not funding anything that would in turn fund abortions, or simplifying the tax code by lowering most taxes across the board (and simply eliminating others).
The blueblood Republicans who thought Mitt Romney had this thing wrapped up months ago now look at Cain and all but say aloud: “How dare he?”
On Sunday, Ann Coulter described the liberal media as being “terrified of strong, conservative, black men.” I would augment her statement just a bit: the liberal media and the Republican establishment are both scared of the same thing in this instance.
For example, it’s Karl Rove, rather than Democrat strategists, who appears to be at the forefront of the effort to take Cain down. The very network for which Rove works, Fox News, recently ran the headline: “Herman Cain vs. Karl Rove.”
Rove is in the tank for Romney and always has been, just as he has been in the tank for all establishment candidates in recent memory (from John McCain nationally in 2008, to Dede Scozzafava in NY-23, and Mike Castle instead of Christine O’Donnell for Senate in 2009). Since Cain stands between Romney and the White House, Cain’s weaknesses have to be magnified, his statements twisted, and his character maligned so that his strengths can be dismissed.
We’ve seen Rove magnify Cain’s supposed weaknesses on foreign policy by pulling out his little whiteboard on Fox News with things like “Afghan policy” and “abortion” written on it. His point is to show that Cain’s foreign policy is weak and his supposed “flip-flops” on abortion hurt his electability.
The problem: Cain didn’t show foreign policy weakness by highlighting the fact that our biggest problems are domestic, and he didn’t flip-flop on abortion during the Piers Morgan interview Rove’s so exercised over. In fact, what Cain said about abortion was very clear and very consistent: He supports no abortion ever, period. Not if the mother’s life is in danger, not in the case of rape or incest. Never. He is 100% pro-life. What Rove is trying to nail him on is that Cain, in the same interview, said other people will make decisions for themselves: “It ultimately gets down to a choice that a family or [a] mother has to make. Not me as president. Not some politician. Not a bureaucrat. It gets down to the family. And whatever they decided, they decide.”
Don’t miss the pertinent points: Cain has promised to deny funds in all cases where monies go toward abortion, so he’s being consistent with his position while understanding that since a president isn’t a dictator, individual Americans may differ with him. That’s all he’s saying.
And Cain’s character is definitely under fire now. In a desperate turn of events only Anita Hill could love, allegations have been levied that Cain harassed females while he was executive officer at the National Restaurant Association twenty years ago. But as J.D. Gordon, Cain’s spokesman, rightly surmised, these allegations are nothing more than the symptoms of inside-the-beltway fears of a real conservative: “Fearing the message of Herman Cain who is shaking up the political landscape in Washington, inside the beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain.”
Fortunately for Cain, conservatives see through these attacks, just as we saw through them when they were used against Justice Clarence Thomas. And whether they come from the right or from the left, they will ultimately succeed in the one thing that neither Rove nor the Republican establishment (nor the mainstream media) wants: a further endearment of Cain to the conservative base throughout this country.
In Karl Rove (and the Republican establishment) v. Herman Cain, Cain continues to lead.