So yesterday I open up my browser, all innocent-like, and saw that Drudge had a match-up between Obama and Cain. This, coupled with Cain's strong showing in the Florida straw poll, and his arrival in the first tier of candidates in at least one major poll, indicates that it is now his turn to have a run at the anybody-but-Romney demographic.
In discussing this I am not backing away from my general dubiousness about our religious faith in polls. Too often the wild variegations we see in polling are treated as a testimony of the mercurial temperament of the god Demos, and not a reflection on the quality of weed that the prophet of Demos, the pollster in question, has been smoking.
But with that aside, let's work with the polling results, just for grins. None of this is an endorsement, or a detailed discussion of Cain's policy positions. He is generally conservative, which is enough to provide us with room for a fun thought experiment. Let us just say that an Obama/Cain race is possible. A few thoughts spring to mind.
The first might appear to be the general trippiness of having the nominee of each major party be a black man. But there is more to it than that. When Obama is thrown out on his ear, which one doesn't matter, it needs to be because he is a hard leftist who couldn't govern his way out of brown paper lunch bag. It must be because of the content of his character, and not the color of his skin -- as that guy sculpted forever into very white marble once told us.
When Jimmy Carter was thrown out for being an epic failure, it was because he was an epic failure. When the same thing happens to Obama, it will be for the same reason. Obama will have proven to us all that a black man can be just as inept as a long line of white men who have occupied that same office. Ah, but when Obama is frogmarched out of the White House by the Electoral College, our entire ruling class is poised to say, and indeed is eager to say, that this tragedy will have been because of the deep racism of the American people. Unless . . . Obama is replaced by another black man.
Now I am not predicting that any of this will happen. I am just jotting down what the nature of my enjoyment will be if it does happen. If Cain defeats Obama, the motive force of racism will still in fact be alleged -- it will just be a lot more fun to listen to and watch. I am looking forward to the possibility of a deep punditry that will show how racist it is to replace one black man with another one.
My second point is this. I have to admit that in the back of my mind, every presidential election, I harbor secret hopes that the European consternation factor will be high. That is one of the guilty-pleasure reasons why a Palin presidency would be so appealing. This means that anything that would highlight European racial hypocrisies would be most welcome. When Obama was elected, Europe rejoiced, and they all pretended that it was because he was a black man. But Europe was actually rejoicing because Obama is a Swede. Just as Massachusetts is Europe without the castles, so Obama is a Swedish pol without the yumpin yiminy accent.
Of course, on real race issues, Europe has harbored terrible racial wars within living memory, Europe has openly racist political parties that can still get their candidates elected, and Europeans won't even go to the movies if the headliner is a black man -- and yet Europeans like to lecture Americans on our race relations.
Try as I might, the third point has nothing to do with race. Herman Cain is a businessman, and has not ever held elective office. So that might be fun to try. Cain could argue that running anything so massive as the federal government is clearly beyond his abilities, and so he intends to shrink it to a size that a good businessman could run. Let's whittle this baby down so that it will fit within his skill set.
So I think it was Dennis Miller who suggested the bumper sticker "Cain vs. Not Able." Because, you know, thought experiments can be both fun and edifying.