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Post Partisan
Posted at 12:25 PM ET, 10/11/2011

Herman Cain’s ‘plantation’ mentality


Herman Cain (R-Flavor of the moment) has violated one of my rules for politicians. To be specific, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza violated the prohibition against invoking slave imagery on Fox News last night.

There were any number of ways Cain could have responded to brickbats hurled at him by Harry Belafonte, who called him a “bad apple in the black community.” Instead, the surging candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, said, “I left the Democrat plantation a long time ago.”

I have no problem with his response to Professor Cornel West, who said Cain “needs to get off the symbolic crack pipe” because of his comment that racism doesn’t matter as much as it used to. “That’s the difference between someone who has spent their life in academia and someone who has spent their life in the real world,” Cain said. But I digress.

Cain is now the second African American Republican of late to brand the Democratic Party a plantation. Rep. Allen West (Fla.) said so during a Fox News interview in August. He also likened himself to Harriet Tubman. File that one under “delusions of grandeur.”

There are plenty of things to say about the Democratic Party and how it has let down people of color in general and blacks in particular. But invoking slave imagery is unnecessary. And it is especially galling coming from a member of a party whose policies and politics generally speaking haven’t been exactly welcoming to African Americans.

In addition, Cain’s blasting of Belafonte would be infinitely more credible if he’d stuck by his initial criticism of Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and his leasing of the now-infamous “Niggerhead” hunting club.

Cain — like everyone else, it seems — wants to ignore the connection between race and Republicans. This is one de facto rule I wish someone in the GOP had the guts to break. Talking about race and this country’s problematic relationship with it shouldn’t be just for Democrats anymore.

By  |  12:25 PM ET, 10/11/2011

 
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