By Manifesto Joe
I should preface by saying that Herman Cain isn't stupid at all, at least certainly not in the classic sense of the word. Truly stupid people don't get master's degrees in computer science from Purdue University. But there's a big difference between intelligence and wisdom, and Cain exhibits little of the latter.
In the world according to Herman Cain, those of you out there who aren't rich, and have no job, "blame yourself." (Translation: Blame the victim.) Here's a link to a story on this.
Encouragement of self-hatred is nothing new in the Republican Party. It's one way they've stayed either in power or on the fringes of it for well over a century -- by isolating, dividing and fragmenting society's losers. It's never been corrupt institutions, it's always YOU. It's never hard-luck incidents like recessions, stock-market crashes, layoffs or catastrophic illnesses in families. Anything to keep the losers from banding together and doing something collectively about corrupt institutions.
This has always been a Republican subtext, and perhaps Cain should get some credit for having the chutzpah to say it right out loud. But that doesn't make this notion any less foolish.
A society is, at the very least, the sum of the individuals who are part of it. Certainly there are lazy, wasteful and moronic people out there (including many who inherited wealth and live in gated communities). There are also plenty of hardworking, thrifty, shrewd folks who have been laid off at work, have seen their life savings fractured because of reckless speculation by the high rollers, and/or have had the misfortune of getting sick or seeing a spouse or child come down with a catastrophic illness.
There are many other considerations in the "race," which as the Bible eloquently says, doesn't always go to the swiftest. (Since he is an associate Baptist minister, I assume that Mr. Cain knows his Bible.)
Luck is a factor that is often crucial. Just being the right stiff, in the right place, at the right time with the right line -- pure dumb luck -- is a biggie. Mark Cuban comes to mind. I suspect that there are many out there as hardworking, shrewd and thrifty as Cuban who are now desperately looking for work and fighting off foreclosure. But, with Americans and their mass media being the dollar-worshipping types that they are, one hears plenty about Cuban, and little if anything about the struggling, faceless masses out there.
Ruthlessness is another key factor. Anyone who's spent much time in the corporate world knows that this can't be underestimated. A ruthless person is apt to be willing to do things that a more ethical and dignified person is unwilling to do. Consequently, ruthless people often end up in managerial roles, and then tend to reward and promote ruthless toadies just like themselves.
In short, someone who has had their eyes and mind open in America, or any other place, for a few decades should know that material success and failure are unpredictable and capricious things. And, the winners tend to just keep on winning, and the losers ... they tend to spend their lives struggling just to get out of that hole.
According to his Wikipedia biography, Mr. Cain grew up relatively poor:
Herman Cain was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Lenora Caine (née Davis), a cleaning woman and domestic worker, and Luther Cain, Jr., who was raised on a farm and worked as a barber and janitor, as well as a chauffeur for Coca-Cola president Robert Woodruff. Cain has said that as he was growing up, his family was "poor" but "happy". Cain related that his mother taught him about her belief that "success was not a function of what you start out with materially, but what you start out with spiritually". His father worked three jobs to own his own home — something he achieved during Cain's childhood — and to see his two sons graduate.
It's certainly an inspiring success story. But Mr. Cain should be reminded of his roots, and also of the fact that in the Great Recession some Americans, a great many, have had difficulty finding just one job, let alone three.
Very few lives out there have been the stuff of Horatio Alger novels. It's nice that Mr. Cain's life has gone like that. For most of us who grew up poor and became a little upwardly mobile, it was a struggle just to make it into the middle class, against odds. Saying "blame yourself" is a platitude from a smug, self-satisfied ignoramus.
Now for the Cain campaign ad on the Web
People are trying hard to figure this one out. Were they serious?
This 56-second Internet campaign ad looks as though Herman was trying to win over the votes of cigarette fiends.
Then there are the numerous gaffes
TV journalist David Gregory was a bit nonplussed when Cain admitted not really knowing what the "neoconservative" movement is or was. It's merely been discussed ever since Il Doofus (Bush 43) took office. How could a person seeking the White House in 2012 have missed out on something political that has been so extensively covered since 2001?
There was also his illegal-alien-killing electric fence for the Mexican border (oh yeah, just a joke), and the one about Jesus being the "perfect conservative" who was killed by a liberal court. Wow.
Again, perhaps Cain should get a little credit for admitting when he doesn't know something, as in the case of "neoconservative." He didn't just go on talking and making a bigger fool of himself, a la Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann.
But a person this foolish, and so ill-informed on the issues, shouldn't even be running for Congress, let alone the Republican presidential nomination.
Experience has taught me not to "misunderestimate" the foolishness of Republicans. I suppose it's still possible for Cain to get the nomination. But the powerful Wall Street branch of the party wants a November winner, not an October buffoon. Even Rick Perry, poor as his debate performances have been, is looking like someone the kingmakers will prefer to an amateur like Cain. (At this point, I'd bet on Romney, though he'll have to name an extreme right-wing running mate to placate the Tea Party.)
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.