Cain and the Not So Stable

No, West isn’t at a Nazi
event — he’s visiting a Holocaust
museum in Jerusalem.

I’ve been hearing a lot of noise lately from Tea Party types who are bored with the dreary Republican presidential field for 2012 and are looking for a fresh face who just might stand a chance against The Great One.

Two names come up more often than you might think: Herman Cain and Allen West. Cain, a businessman and unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate in 2004, just announced his candidacy yesterday. West, a first-term congressman from Florida and retired Army officer and Iraq war veteran, is being urged to run but has not yet committed.

Cain has never held elected office and West has been a Congressman for all of four months. So what do they have in common? They’re both conservative and African American. Since its inception, the Tea Party has been dogged by charges of racism within its ranks — unfairly in many cases.

Why then would so many of those TPers gravitate toward these two black men? Well, if you’re a Tea Partier looking to dispel the notion that you’re a racist, there’s no better way than to embrace a black candidate who shares your views.

Here’s the problem with that. If TPers were beating the drum for someone like Colin Powell, that would be one thing. But Cain and West, while interesting characters, are no better prepared to assume the presidency than was Obama in 2008.

Tea Party types are fond of saying, with some justification, that Barack Obama had one of the thinnest resumes of any incoming president. But doesn’t supporting the candidacies of Cain and West feed into the stereotype of the underachieving affirmative-action black man?

Conversely, when progressives ridicule the candidacies of Cain and West, don’t they leave themselves open to charges that they placed their faith in a similarly unqualified man?

As the saying goes, “Just asking …”

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