“Will [Black] voters find Herman Cain more dynamic, more charismatic, more sensible and more optimistic than the withering, nagging failure who is Barack Obama?
A few weeks ago I caught the TCM broadcast of the classic WWII film, The Caine Mutiny, 1954, starring Humphrey Bogart as Capt. Queeg, a petty tyrant with a fragile psyche whose officers assume command when his indecision during a crisis threatens their ship. The film was based on the 1952 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Herman Wouk, which he adapted for the stage as The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, edging out the release of the film by a mere five months. Directed by Charles Laughton, who knew a little something about mutinies, the play ran on Broadway for 415 performances with Lloyd Nolan as Queeg and Henry Fonda in the lead role of the defense attorney.
Considering its pedigree, the film had an unexpectedly difficult road to production when it met resistance from the US Navy who feared damage to their image. Negotiations between the Navy and Columbia Pictures led to an opening notice scrawled for all to read: “There has never been a mutiny in a ship of the United States Navy. The truths of this film lie not in its incidents but in the way a few men meet the crisis of their lives.” In meeting their respective crises, some men cracked, some behaved rashly but bravely, while one revealed himself as a double-dealing coward. One might suggest this is par-for-the-course for any cross-section of humanity, therefore a depiction of “truth.” Among the other “truths” of The Caine Mutiny is the fact that during a crisis, people want and need to be led. They will respond to a positive vision, expressed in clear terms by a commanding presence. If that person advocates the overthrow of failed leaders and policies, he’s going to receive support.
Last Saturday, we had something of a re-enactment, when Herman Cain won the Florida straw poll in a landslide, winning more votes than his next two opponents combined. In this Cain Mutiny, the former CEO of Godfather Pizza netted 37% of the vote against Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 15% and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney’s 14%. It should be clear to anyone following Republican politics that Cain’s message, his consistently positive personality and his compelling personal narrative have resonated with voters. Voters who sided with Cain rebelled against a media who sought to frame the race as between two candidates (Perry and Romney). They rebelled against the conventional wisdom that anything but tepid, politically-correct rhetoric risks alienating independents. They rebelled against the narrow definition of “electable.”
For conservative Republicans sipping TEA or not, their Captain Queeg is a distant and unaccountable federal government which spends like drunken sailors and begs for more cash like a heroin addict jonesing for his next fix. The ludicrous failure of Pres. Obama to cut spending and reduce debt, while arguing for increased taxes on the 1% of the population who already pay 20% of all federal income tax, is easily analogous to Queeg’s obsessive focus on pilfered strawberries and untucked shirttails while his ship sails in circles and gets tossed precariously in high seas. By contrast, Herman Cain’s mantra of “Nine, nine, nine” and his assertion that “The natural state of our economy is prosperity,” combine common sense with Reaganesque optimism. His pithy slogan summarizing the race as “Herman Cain versus more of the same,” may catch fire among voters hoping for change back to an America they recognize.
And while Liberals have worked overtime to smear Republicans and especially TEA Partiers as racist, Herman Cain’s victory reinforces the truth that these insurgent Republicans are issue voters, not identity voters. The myth that the TEA Party is all-white and advocates policies authentic Black Americans could never support has already been debunked by the presence of outspoken Black Conservatives like Allen West, Kevin Jackson, Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder, Charles Payne, Deneen Borelli, AlfonZo Rachel, etc., but the desperation to make the racist charge stick has been ratcheted up in recent weeks, by the likes of Maxine Waters declaring the TEA Party can “go straight to hell,” and Morgan Freeman’s self-contradictory statement that Republicans who tried to get rid of Bill Clinton are only trying to get rid of Barack Obama because he’s Black.
The truth of the matter, evident for decades, is that no political party is more motivated to force a vote along racial lines than Democrats. As Pat Buchanan points out, Pres. Obama’s re-election strategy is specifically designed to incite racial tension and capitalize on racial divides to provide him with a narrow road to victory. Remember, this is the President who last year appealed to Hispanic-Americans to go to the polls and “punish their enemies.” It will be interesting to see how a Cain candidacy might throw a wrench into Obama’s plan to divide and conquer. Blacks, after all, are suffering under the Obama economy more than any other ethnic group, and still the President in his arrogance takes them for granted. Yet, before we can even consider a mutiny in the general election, we should observe the discontent within the Congressional Black Caucus.
The CBC had a mild dust-up when newly-elected TEA Party Congressman Allen West stated his intention to join while fellow freshman Tim Scott declined.West’s admission to a group, whose sole concern is supposed to be helping citizens of his skin tone, should not have been controversial, and the ensuing flack exposed the CBC as a collection of whips charged, not with providing genuine assistance to Black Americans, but with keeping Black voters in line.
Then in September, Rep. West threatened to resign when CBC member Andre Carson accused TEA Partiers of trying to return to Jim Crow laws (odd, because those were a Democratic Party innovation) and Maxine Waters told the TEA Party to go to hell (which is probably doing better economically right now than her district in California). Truly, the CBC feels threatened by the TEA Party drive for austerity. The CBC has long rejected free market solutions for inner city poverty; it has failed to help the Black community thrive and all its left-leaning ideology can offer is greater big government dependency. No problem, they’ve got a Black President. For skin-deep politicos, what else matters?
Well, it might help if the first Black President did something, anything positive for the Black community. In his recent Big Black Bus tour, President Obama scrupulously avoided cruising through Black neighborhoods. Why? Perhaps he didn’t want his shiny bus to get egged.
President Obama is presiding over 16.7% Black unemployment, the highest rate for that demographic in 27 years. His first stimulus failed to move the needle, and the American Jobs Act he’s touting seems more of the same, with estimates putting the cost of jobs it will create at over $200,000 per. Things are so bad with this President for the Black community that CBC Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver admitted, if this were Bill Clinton in office, they’d be marching on the White House. Barack Obama certainly didn’t make it any better when he visited the CBC and chastised them for losing enthusiasm for him: “Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC.” The work CBC has to do is to get Barack Obama re-elected, and as we’ve seen with this president many times before, the needs of the many are subordinated to the needs of The One.
So, is the CBC ripe for a Cain Mutiny? It would take a great deal for those Social Democrats and machine politicians to renounce the hand that feeds them in favor of a hand-up for their constituents. It will be interesting to see if their ideology is more than skin-deep. But while the CBC may be willing to attack Herman Cain as insufficiently authentically Black, in order to facilitate an Obama second term, will they be able to deliver the votes in their districts? Or will those voters find Herman Cain more dynamic, more charismatic, more sensible and more optimistic than the withering, nagging failure who is Barack Obama? Will the Democratic Party have to abandon efforts to get out the Black vote when it looks like that Black vote might go to the other Black candidate? The CBC might assert, as did the US Navy, that they have never had a mutiny. But the truth will lie in how individual voters meet the crises in their lives.