Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Raising Cain

Rachel Maddow looks at the seemingly magical rise of Herman Cain through the polls and across the country as the GOP frontrunner. How is he doing it?

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Aside from the Koch brothers connection, there’s another element behind Mr. Cain’s surge: the electorate’s fascination with someone who is so out there as to amuse and mystify. He’s not much different than Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, or George Wallace, and they will always find a core of voters who will be willing to indulge them. They’re not unlike the comic relief clowns in Shakespeare’s tragedies, except when they speak truth to power, it’s just plain whacked. (Their backers say that candidates like Nader and Perot got more than 10% of the popular vote when they ran. Yes, that’s roughly equal to the percentage of voters who believe the world is flat.)

The thing I can’t figure out is why the Koch brothers are backing him. With all their money, they buy any candidate they want, yet they go with Herman Cain, who heretofore has shown all the political acumen of Typhoid Mary. (He’s produced a commercial with a spokesman who makes a point of smoking a cigarette on screen. Think of the children.) I guess that’s what happens when you inherit your fortune rather than earn it all yourself: the brains don’t get passed along with the trust fund.

That, or they’re just messing with the Republicans, which is always a good source of amusement.