Friday, October 7, 2011

A "Placeholder Candidate"

Political analyst and blogger Kyle Kondik at the Center for Politics and U.VA. wonders about the seriousness of the Cain campaign:
Cain’s polling numbers are skyrocketing, but then again, this Republican primary battle has been so crazy that another non-politician politician (Donald Trump — remember him?) once led national polls. In fact, as New York Times commentator Nate Silver pointed out recently, 10 different individuals have led at least one national Republican primary poll this year. Cain may very well be a placeholder candidate — a person gaining support in polls and straw polls not because he actually has a chance of winning, but because Republicans are just unsettled and don’t see anyone in the field they are ready to rally around just yet.

Time's Joe Klein thinks Perry is worth a second look:
I’d say that Rick Perry is probably stronger than he seems right now–those who’ve watched him work a crowd think he has excellent retail political skills, which are very important in a place like Iowa. I’d also guess that Herman Cain is an overvalued commodity at the moment–he’s a nice protest parking place for Tea Partisans disappointed by the Bachmann and Perry adventures.

I don't hold myself to be anywhere nearly as competent or insightful as either of these individuals, but here's what I think: I think they're missing a simple truth, one that no one wants to utter because it may be too simple and perhaps insulting to the Grand Old Party (but, since I don't give a shit about them, I'll go ahead and toss it out there).  The GOP, dominated by the Tea Party movement, an older, whiter, and more Christian(ist) body than the party in general, is an angry mob suckling on the backlash teat.  Anger is their raison d’être: anger at losing in 2008 and 2006; anger at being exposed as the fools they truly were in supporting the Bush/Cheney disaster which allowed spending and debt to skyrocket more indiscriminately than during any other presidential administration since WWII; anger that there is a personable, pragmatic, wholesome family man who belongs to a minority group that represents only about 10% of the American population leading the free world.  Enslaved to their anger, they will latch onto ANY candidate on their side who mirrors their anger.  At first it was Donald Trump, who dropped F-bombs with aplomb and blamed the Chinese for our poor economic condition (and who can forget his taking credit for settling the birther controversy?).  Then it was Michele Bachmann, she of the wild conspiracy theories beginning with re-education camps for Obama youth and ending with national vaccination programs that cause Christian whites to go insane (oh, wait, that seemed to work, didn't it?).  Then it was Rick Perry, who rode in on his (what else?) white horse, swinging his big secessionist dick and attacking Social Security as an unconstitutional Ponzi scheme.  And now it's Herman Cain, a man with two black parents who says everyone who isn't rich like him has only themselves to blame for not working hard enough.  He seems really, really angry.  In fact, every time I see a picture of him online or on TV, he looks like this:

Given his recent invective against the Occupy Wall Street protestors, this picture makes me recall the great words of another black man, Jimi Hendrix:
White collar conservative walking down the street
Pointing that plastic finger at me
Hoping that my kind will soon drop and die
But I'm gonna wave my freak flag high... HIGH!

So, in a way, Kondik is right that he is a placeholder candidate, but the truth is -- they have ALL been placeholder candidates.  Placeholder candidates for the anger of the loony Tea Party right wing.  As soon as someone angrier comes along (Gingrich, perhaps, or maybe Paul?) that person will surge in the polls.  The Tea Party was so hopeful of a Palin candidacy because she is the raw nerve ending of white, Christianist, IGNORANT backlash anger (funny how she was right to call Cain "flavor of the week," by the way).  It's one reason why Romney does so poorly with the Tea Party -- he's not angry enough.

The problem for the GOP is that anger eventually has to give way to reason when there are about a hundred million other Americans who are angry, for reasons that are slightly more rational.  And, absent any alternatives for the Obama express with regard to fixing the economy (other than "wait till we are in the White House and things will get way better, you'll see"), right now their anger looks eventually to morph into rage, more than likely of the racist kind.  And ain't no way they'll win the election that way.

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