Herman Cain spends time with possible 2012 Republican presidential hopeful, Rep. Michele Bachmann. (Photo: AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Herman Cain is the unlikely GOP candidate for president exciting a lot of Republicans right now. Born to working-class parents in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1945, Cain made his way up in the world by becoming the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and, subsequently, a millionaire. BET.com has covered Cain before, and his outspoken antics ensure that the press will follow him for months to come. But his latest stunt exemplifies exactly to what extent Cain is a TV personality and not a valid candidate for office.
This weekend at the Faith and Family Conference in Washington, D.C., Cain, a prominent Tea Party supporter, was asked why he’s not joined by more African-Americans at Tea Party events. His response? Blacks are simply too poor to make it out to the rallies.
"They can't afford to," Cain said. "If you look at the typical income of a Black family of four it's going to be lower than a non-Black or white family of four. Generally speaking on average, white families are much more economically prosperous than Black families. So, many Black families don't have the economic flexibility to go to a [conservative political action committee] conference."
If any one thing shows you how wildly out of touch Cain is with both politics and the American people, it should be this. Cain is right in saying that African-Americans struggle with economic poverty at disproportionate rates. But he’s absolutely wrong in believing that poverty is the reason Blacks aren’t attending Tea Party rallies.
One need only look at some images taken from Tea Party rallies around the country to recognize that a lot of them are not very welcoming of people of color. (It turns out that Black people aren’t very fond of images of Barack Obama with a witch-doctor bone through his nose.) That Cain is either ignorant of this or chooses to ignore it proves that he should not be the person leading our nation into a more diverse age.
What’s more, Cain also appears to have no clue about the politics of the African-American community. Consider this quote, also from this weekend: “Anecdotally, I happen to believe that at least a third of Blacks who vote are conservative. But the left has intimidation tactics that cause some people who may not be as outspoken as I am to stay silent.”
If a full 33 percent of African-Americans are conservative, I’d ask Cain to explain why more than 95 percent of Black voters supported Obama in the 2008 election. I’d have thought they’d taught Cain basic math in business school.