Bob Franken

Hearst-New York Times Column

(As usual the arrangement with syndicators means these columns appear here a week after their newspaper release)

^(For use by New York Times News Service clients)@< ^By BOB FRANKEN@= ^C.2011 Hearst Newspapers@= WASHINGTON _ For those weary of Anthony Wiener and the word play with his name, let's move on and consider GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain. It's time for a Cain Scrutiny. The man is conservative with a capital ``C.'' He told the CBS Morning News Wednesday: ``I believe homosexuality is a sin. . . I believe it is a choice.'' His position on Muslims, he says to Glenn Beck, would require them to prove their loyalty to the Constitution before they could serve in his administration, unlike, say, Catholics or Mormons. It's easy to understand how the most recent Gallup poll of self-identified Republicans, raises Cain to the top when it comes to what Gallup labels as ``Positive Intensity Score,'' which means a strongly favorable opinion. Mitt Romney, who is leading the overall GOP preference pack, is in the tepid intensity range. So is Newt Gingrich. Michele Bachmann shows up well and Sarah Palin does OK but they are no Herman Cains, who has become a regular Mr. Excitement. This shouldn't be a surprise. The Herminator, as he likes to call himself, does not engage in nuanced rhetoric. To lengthy applause at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, he declared that ``stupid people are running America'' and that liberals are ``liars.'' It sure doesn't hurt his cause that he's an African-American with appeal to those who have tried to shed accusations that their opposition to Barack Obama is tinged with racism. ``Don't condemn me,'' he quipped to the Manchester Union Leader, ``because the first black one was bad.''

He’s proud of his humble beginnings and proud of his political start, which came in an April 1994 Town Meeting when he confronted President Bill Clinton and derided the president’s health care plan, contending that it wouldn’t work in the “competitive marketplace.”

So he’s right at home with the GOP’s virulent rejection of “Obamacare.” His one run for political office, in 2004 for the U.S. Senate in his native Georgia, was unsuccessful. But in these days of the Tea Party, what was once fringe is now GOP mainstream.

His business resume is Establishment. He was CEO of Godfather’s Pizza after he had come up through the ranks of several corporations and served as chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. So, it’s doubtful he’ll be easily tripped up when questioned about current issues.

There was that recent incident where he attributed words from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution, but American History gaffes are quite the rage in his party these days.

Actually, his rhetoric is an inspiration for those looking to put their hatred of President Obama specifically and Washington in general into words. First of all, he has a thundering speaking style that ranks right up there with the fieriest preachers.

After the first Republican presidential debate, the May 5 Fox News get-together in South Carolina, just a few of the party’s aspirants showed up. They probably wish they hadn’t.

Afterwards, Frank Luntz, ran one of his ritual focus groups and determined that Cain had thrashed the others.

There are many debates ahead. They will feature more candidates. They need to be wary of Herman Cain. He has much less name recognition than most of them, but with Donald Trump out of the race, he’s the one roaring up from the outside.

He clearly brings an enthusiasm to a party that is widely frustrated at the lackluster roster of challengers to Barack Obama.
They are starting to take notice of “the Herminator” and wondering if he’s the best one to shout on their behalf: “Yes, We Cain!”
^–@< (Email: bob(at); on the Web:

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