RIP, Herman Cain: We’re Still Learning a Lot from You

Earlier today, July 30, I learned the sad news that Herman Cain – successful business entrepreneur and charismatic 2012 Republican presidential candidate – died at age 74 of complications associated with the Coronavirus, with which he was diagnosed a few weeks earlier. He taught us a great deal in life, and he is already doing so even in the first few hours of his passing.

Cain burst onto the scene in 2012, rising to the top of a talented Republican field of hopefuls seeking to unseat President Obama. Cain’s niche as a successful businessman with a no-nonsense, politically incorrect style was a precursor to Donald Trump’s meteoric rise four years later. Cain mounted a valiant effort but, like Ross Perot in 1992 (and to a lesser extent in 1996) and Bernie Sanders in 2016 and this time around, he was eventually overshadowed and overwhelmed by the major party establishment duopoly: that vile monster with tentacles not only in the power base of both Democrat and Republican circles, but also in the media, academia, Hollywood, and Wall Street.

This, the scourge of American politics, wants us to believe there’s a difference between Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republican John Kasich, and that a has-been publication like the New York Times offers true diversity of opinion on its editorial pages simply because ‘liberal’ Paul Krugman and ‘conservative’ David Brooks might be a few percentage points apart about what the maximum income tax rate ought to be.  

When Cain injected a combination of personal charm and common sense into the campaign, along with the catchy slogan of “9-9-9” – reflecting his tax plan of 9 percent each for income, federal sales, and corporate taxes – he soared to the top of the Republican ticket, outperforming the sluggish Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Michelle Bachmann. Epitomizing her woeful lack of intuitiveness, Bachmann actually thought she could steal Cain’s thunder by saying: “Herman Cain says ‘9-9-9’ well I say: win-win-win!” Yeah, that’s how clueless so many candidates are. Just as so many 2016 contenders were simply not in Trump’s league in terms of campaign savvy, the same was true in 2012 vis-à-vis Obama. Not Herman Cain, though. But he never got his chance at the grand prize: the party nomination eluded him as sexual harassment allegations magically surfaced just as he peaked. Soon enough, Cain suspended his campaign and gave rise to another straight-talking populist, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. In no time at all, Gingrich became the new GOP frontrunner, and the establishmentarian favorite, Romney, had to act quickly. Money came pouring in, just in time to run sleazy ads ahead of the vital Florida primary. The gullible voters were duped, and Romney won the nomination. Like Cain, Gingrich had a puncher’s chance to beat Obama, whereas Romney would jab safely from the outside and, predictably, he lost the fight on points. 

Cain and Gingrich – both of whom became staunch Trump supporters – served as the foundation on which Trump built his 2016 campaign. Unlike all the others, though, Trump outfought and outthought the establishmentarian Leviathan. Thank you, Herman Cain, your loss was a lesson learned that paved the way to Trump’s victory.

On to the present: the media’s announcement of Cain’s passing. Consider these headlines (their respective media outlets in parentheses):

·         Herman Cain, Ex-Presidential Candidate Who Refused to Wear Mask, Dies after Covid-19 Diagnosis (Reuters)

·         Prominent Trump Backer Who Refused to Wear a Mask Dies of Coronavirus (HuffPost)

·         Maverick Former Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain, 74, Dies of Covid-19 after Going to Trump's Notorious Tulsa rally without a Mask and Then Being Diagnosed Nine Days Later (Daily Mail)

Those are just a few examples; by the time you read this, they will have multiplied tenfold.

These media outlets, and many more, abused Cain when he was alive to further their own agenda, and only the naïve would think they’d stop doing so out of respect for his passing. The narrative is simple enough to detect: Trump is the irresponsible devil who caused the death of hundreds of thousands because of his continued indifference to the Coronavirus (and for good measure, let’s throw in his indifference to climate change!), and well-meaning fools like Cain and others who innocently believe him lose their lives as a result. The other part of the message implies that if you go to a Trump rally, you’ll get sick and die, so, don’t go to a Trump rally.

And now, some essential facts that the mainstream media may leave out: Cain in no way denied the dangers of the virus, and in fact directly spoke in favor of safety measures. For example, in his own words on his June 11 broadcast on his website, hermancain.com, he said: “We must continue to spread the coronavirus message – social distancing, sanitizing, handwashing, and masks … let’s be mindful, folks, don’t take [the virus] for granted, take it seriously.”

Granted, Cain did indeed attend Trump’s June 20 rally in Tulsa, OK, where he was spotted not wearing a mask and not social distancing. But having just secured a new show for the cable network Newsmax, Cain was also extensively touring the United States at the time, including making stops in Arizona, currently ranked second in the nation in terms of cases per capita. That Cain, a 74-year-old stage-4 cancer survivor might have exercised more caution given his high-risk status is one thing, but to conclude that he was infected at the Trump rally, which was merely one of his numerous high-profile public stops, is a horrendously irresponsible and agenda-laden presumption.

I never met Herman Cain in person, but I was a guest on his radio show a few years ago. It was a pleasure speaking with him then, and watching him over the past decade. In death, he teaches us, again; giving us yet another opportunity to expose so many in the media for the charlatans they are.


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