Saturday, October 15, 2011
Herman Cain Is Not Red Riding Hood
I was amused almost to the point of desperation at Deborah Ring's characterization (Oct.13th in the Roanoke Times) of Herman Cain--the former Godfather's Pizza CEO who has recently catapulted to the top of the GOP presidential race--as someone who will clean up the mess in Washington because he is a "new face," and not an insider. "He does not owe any PAC, union, or corporation anything," she writes.
Cain may not come from the ranks of professional politics, but he is absolutely marbled with the financial fat of those corporate billionaire backers of the Tea Party, the Koch brothers. This is meant to be a well-kept secret,Tea Party affiliation no longer being quite the passport into politics it was just a year ago--and so far, the connection seems to have gone unnoticed by political and talk-show pundits. It was not surprising, therefore, that on his kick-off bus tour in Tennessee the other day, Cain told the crowd he will not name his policy advisers to protect them from attacking critics. "They're my advisers, not yours," he snapped.
If you want the real scoop on exactly how lily-white the latest Republican front-runner really is, you can check out the particulars online in Scott Keyes' article about the relationship between Cain and his billionaire pals at thinkprogress.org. There you will find a spectacle with a kick: Cain's rise from niche radio host and pizza CEO to presidential front-runner appears to have been largely fueled by the Koch network.
In an article thick with well- documented links, Keyes maps out the history of this extensive connection, showing how, dating back to 2005, Cain held an official position in the Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity that offered him immersive opportunities to barnstorm the country, give speeches, hold town-hall meetings, and generally spruce up his skills for an eventual presidential bid. Cain's campaign manager, Mark Block, was a former president of Americans for Prosperity's Wisconsin chapter and is credited with persuading Cain to run for president. Block also has a history, it seems, of electoral dirty tricks, and was once fined $15,000 for violating Wisconsin electoral law.
In January, Cain attended the Koch brothers private biannual meeting in Palm Springs of top right-wing corporate and political figures in order to coordinate strategy and raise money for the conservative movement. He also traveled to Wisconsin to support Governor Scott Walker's union-busting efforts, which were equally fueled by the Koch brothers, as well as to a Koch-based anti-climate rally in New York in June. If Cain's catchy "9-9-9" across-the-board tax plan were ever instigated, the Koch brothers would personally see their tax rates fall from 23 percent to around 11 percent.
In sum, we are not talking about some free-wheeling pizza populist here, with no campaign structure and very little money. Herman Cain is not quite the untainted, folksy, down-home "new face" that Ring makes him out to be. Rather, he is quite the clever teacup, whose bristling subtext is that of being front man for the most dangerous right-wing corporatists now threatening to take over our country. Cain has already named Paul Ryan and Jim deMint for unspecified slots in his administration. Does all this make your radar system flash on red alert? It does mine.