Herman Cain, appearing on ABC’s This Week, offered Perry the most mild of rebukes considering he’s old enough to recall what life was like when segregation was the law of the land. “I think that it shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of that rock and renaming the place,” he said.
Wrong answer, Herman.
You might have anticipated that Perry would face a firestorm for being associated with the property, but it’s Cain whose remarks are drawing the most criticism from the right. At RedState, Erick Erickson concluded, “It also seems to be a slander Herman Cain is picking up and running with as a way to get into second place.” Glenn Reynolds remarked that until now, Cain’s “big appeal is that he’s not just another black race-card-playing politician.” Over at the Daily Caller, Matt Lewis called Cain’s remarks “a cheap shot, and, perhaps a signal that Cain is willing to play the race card against a fellow Republican when it benefits him.”
The key phrase here is “fellow Republican.” Because, you see, no one thought Cain was “playing the race card” when he said in the same program that black people are “brainwashed” into voting for Democrats and suggested that black people who vote Republican are “thinking for themselves.” Cain wasn’t rebuked by conservatives when he previously suggested President Barack Obama was not “a strong black man,” implied liberals were out to commit genocide against blacks through support for abortion rights, and said he wouldn’t appoint a Muslim to his cabinet.
I think Serwer goes a little farther than he needs to after this excerpt, especially his comment that the role of black conservatives is to “reassure Republicans that their political problems with race are the inventions of a liberal conspiracy.” That did make me laugh, but I think it’s not totally fair. But the main point is spot on. As Serwer’s examples indicate, Republicans and the noise machine don’t give a shit about “race-baiting” or insensitive remarks, so long as they aren’t directed at fellow members of the tribe. Cain’s already trying to move on and I don’t blame him. Being upset about this just means he’s acting like a liberal and that ain’t the impression he wants to convey.