My Message to the GOP

On Tuesday, November 6th an over-confident Republican Party had it’s world shaken and it’s bubble burst when President Barack Obama won re-election in an electoral college landslide and the Democratic party strengthened it’s hold on the Senate in a decisive victory. The GOP did hold onto the House of Representatives, yielding nine seats to the Democrats (black conservative Florida congressman Alan West bids us goodbye) but still retaining a large majority, as well as picking up a governorship in North Carolina. And of course, while President Obama won big in the electoral college he only won in the popular vote by a respectable, but not a dramatic, margin of just under 3 million votes. But given the passions and the critical importance both sides put upon this election, (and given the near certainty with which many GOP elites like Karl Rove and Dick Morris predicted President Obama’s downfall), this election can only be seen as a disaster for the Republican Party.

President Obama’s victory reflects a tireless discipline on the part of he and his campaign to maximize voter turnout in the face of a bad economy,  and aggressively and effectively attacking the opposition, defining Governor Romney more than Romney was able to define himself in the eyes of the American people. The Democratic Party and the Obama team deserves credit for the unparalleled efficiency of their organizing, both this year and in 2008. But there is something else at work in America that accounts for President Obama’s victory, and that should serve as a reality check for the GOP. That is that the demographic makeup of the American electorate is changing, and is changing for good. When all is said and done, Mitt Romney won big with one very broad group of voters and that is white voters; particularly among older whites and male whites at that. Now in the past, seeing as white people represent by far the largest racial group in the country, a presidential candidate who carried a large majority of white voters stood a very good chance of winning the presidency. But since 2004 the white share of the electorate has decreased four percentage points while the minority share has increased about the same amount. President Obama won enormously among blacks (93-6), but also among Hispanics (71-27) and Asians as well. The age and gender gaps favored the president too. He won female and young voters by significant margins. What confused Republican strategists was not that the President won these groups; they always expected him to. What confused Karl Rove and others was that the turnout among these groups was anywhere close to the levels they were at in 2008. The GOP intelligentsia thought that 2008 was an anomaly, that minority voters and young voters would not return to the polls in the record breaking numbers they did in 2008 in 2012, now that the excitement over the Obama candidacy had faded across almost four years of economic struggle and political difficulty. But they were wrong. The Democrats seem to have a new coalition, and if the Republicans cannot make inroads with these groups (all of which represent growing portions of the electorate) they will likely cease to be competitive in the future. Thus begging the question, where does the GOP go from here?

My feeling is that, while I believe the Republican Party is more right than it is wrong on the fiscal and economic issues that are so important to the American people today (Mitt Romney won over Barack Obama in the exit polls on the question of who would best manage the economy) the GOP is nevertheless on the wrong side of many issues that are important to the individual ethnic, gender, and age groups that swung this presidential election and the last to Barack Obama and the Democrats, and threaten to make the political future of America one that might be dominated by the left wing. In short, the problem is that the Republican Party, founded as the party of civil rights, has in recent years abandoned the civil rights argument, and has ceded it almost wholly to the Democrats. I must therefore argue, and insist, that the GOP gets back to it’s roots as not just being the party of Reagan and Goldwater and small government, but the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, King and civil rights.

Many Republicans seem to think that Civil Rights as a legitimate issue set ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act in ’64, and that talk of broad civil right’s issues now is just so much race-baiting and class warfare brought about by cynical liberals. And sure, plenty of it is. But there are many civil rights and minority-specific issues that are not. The issue of fair pay for women, for instance, is a legitimate civil rights issue, and the fact that our party and it’s nominee could not get it together to support the Lilly Ledbetter Act (allowing women more time to sue for pay discrimination) is a mark against us that hurt us with the female vote, and rightfully so. We don’t have to infringe upon the civil rights of religious groups (the one group conservatives seem quick to take a civil rights stand on behalf of) as many Democrats see fit to do by demanding that they provide women with contraception against their will, but the issue of fair pay should be a no-brainer. Likewise with Hispanics and immigration reform. George W. Bush and Newt Gingrich were right: we cannot deport 12 million immigrants from this country even if they are illegal. It is neither practical nor humane. Mitt Romney and his notion of “self-deportation,” were wrong. We do not need to do as some Democrats and self-serving business interests would do and imperil our country by advocating an open border. We must secure the border, and as George W. Bush tried to do we must tie that effort to the effort to legalize and integrate the law-abiding illegal immigrants who are already here. Republicans would not work with President Bush on that issue; hopefully they work with President Obama.

With respect to gays I cannot go so far as to say the Republican Party must endorse gay marriage. I define marriage as being between a man and a woman and that is an issue for the conscience of the individual to decide. But there must still be a basic level of respect for gays and for where they are coming from. It was disgraceful to hear a large part of the audience at a Republican Primary debate boo a gay soldier who asked a question of the candidates, even more disheartening to see that not Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich or any of the candidates stood up for him. On the other hand it was good to see that a large number (though still not a majority) of Republicans voted for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which was indeed a genuine civil rights issue for gay Americans. It was a bipartisan victory for America that that was undone. With respect to African-Americans, I don’t expect the Republican Party to undergo a radical transformation on the issue of Affirmative Action, but they can at least not do things to pro-actively hurt their chances with blacks. I did not consider the voter I.D. initiatives to be racist exactly (they’re likely to affect as many whites as blacks ultimately) but they we’re unnecessary and politically motivated, and allowed hysterical commentators on the left to claim that we had reentered the days of Jim Crow.

Ultimately the most important thing the Republican Party can do with respect to restoring it’s reputation among minorities and women is to simply not be afraid to speak directly to the issues that concern them. It is my belief that free market oriented policies are more likely to bring prosperity and social mobility to all Americans, including blacks and Latinos, women and gays, etc. The GOP is good at saying this, but cannot go beyond that to address the other issues beyond jobs and the economy that concern women and minorities. Barack Obama, on the other hand, actively empathizes with all of these groups. Conservatives can call it pandering, but it is better than seeming not to care. And so the issue is as much one of emphasis, tone and awareness as it is one of adopting sensible policies. The Democrats have a bad habit of seeing discrimination when it isn’t there. But Republicans have a bad habit of not seeing discrimination when it is there, and that tarnishes our ability to promote our policies on the wide range of issues where we could do minority and female Americans a lot of good. It’s time for Republicans to take a wider scope. The GOP does not have to abandon it’s principles of smaller government and individual liberty to move forward competitively into the America of the 21rst century. It just has to reclaim it’s old principles of inclusiveness and equal opportunity. Do that, and there’s no political battleground upon which the GOP will not be able to fight in the future.

The Substance of the Obama-Romney Debate

President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have now had the first of their much anticipated (by me anyway, and my fellow political junkies) presidential debates. The winner? Well, Governor Romney by a landslide according to the polls and almost all the commentary from Democrats and Republicans, black and white. It is rare when a political party acknowledges it’s own presidential candidate’s defeat. Republicans at least made a cursory effort to suggest George W. Bush won his first (disastrous) debate against John Kerry (it should give hope to Obama supporters to remember that Bush came back to win that election) even if it seemed obvious that they knew otherwise. But every Democrat not working directly for the President seems to have declared their own man the loser; an astounding blow to Obama’s prestige and his intellectual reputation. And I agree; the president lost badly. He was sluggish in his comebacks, listless in his delivery, unable to hold Romney’s gaze and lacking his famous confidence during the most important debate of his career. Romney on the other hand was focused, direct, unhesitating (with better posture no less) and perhaps most importantly, looked directly at the President almost the whole time, conveying a willingness and eagerness to challenge the champion and to take his crown. In other words, Romney came to win, and it seemed like President Obama didn’t even want to play.

But with all this talk of style and delivery (which is very important in politics) it is unfortunate that what is lost in this is a stricter focus on the substance of what the candidates had to say. And on issues of substance, though I agree more with the trend of Mitt Romney’s comments, the truth is that the debate was much closer to even if anyone bothered to pay that close attention. Mitt Romney spoke with force and conviction about his tax plan, and was persuasive in saying that the President had mis-characterized it. Where Obama called it a 5-trillion dollar tax cut skewed towards the rich, Romney claimed adamantly that this was untrue, that by closing loopholes and deductions he would insure that the rich paid the same overall amount of taxes, while the middle class and small businesses would pay less because of reduced rates. To that Obama lamely cited some studies supporting his view and repeated, again without any energy, that that this was “math” and “arithmetic” (quoting Bill Clinton) and that Governor Romney could not do what he said he would do without either raising middle class taxes, or increasing the deficit. All of Romney’s replies to this were forceful and effective…and yet, President Obama was almost certainly correct. There are only so many loopholes and deductions available to be cut, and while they number in the hundreds of billions of dollars, Mitt Romney’s tax cut numbers in the trillions.That is a problem. Romney fills in the blank by saying the difference in revenue will come from growth, but while his approach may well grow the economy (I think it will), it’s a big “if” as to whether he can grow it so much that his tax cuts will essentially pay for themselves. So then what does he do if and when they don’t? Increase taxes? Or let the deficit rise? Obama basically said this, but he did not drive the point home. He hesitated, looked down, speaking without fighting. As a result nobody saw that Obama was on to something. Nobody noticed.

On Medicare the two candidates again made good points, but only one candidate made them effectively. Romney repeated the claim that Obama cuts medicare by 715 billion dollars, and substantiated it by noting that those cuts come directly out of the compensation the government pays to healthcare providers. If Medicare is to pay 3 quarters of a trillion dollars less to providers to care for Medicare patients (keeping in mind that Medicare already pays less to doctors and hospitals than private insurance…that’s my point, not Romney’s) you can expect far fewer medical professionals to care for Medicare patients, hence less Medicare. Romney’s critique was good, and it stuck. Obama’s counter was also good, substantively speaking. Obama made the point that the voucher program Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan support would cause the most vulnerable seniors to remain in traditional Medicare, ultimately crashing the program (because coverage costs would skyrocket and you would have a smaller pool of people paying into the system…again my point, not Obama’s) and leaving everybody therefore to the mercy of skyrocketing insurance premiums that are already killing us now. Obama’s point was good. But it did not stick, because he did not make it stick. Romney went on as if Obama had said nothing at all, and nobody noticed…including, it seemed, the President.

President Obama missed more opportunities than that. Romney scored big on Obama’s wasteful green energy subsidies, a trap Obama stepped into by talking about oil subsidies which is really small ball stuff compared to the overall budget. But Mitt Romney gave Obama a chance to gain those points back and then some. Mitt Romney claimed that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered under his health care policy. Barack Obama pointed out that that is only true for those who already have coverage and that those who don’t still would lack it, but again he did not press the point. The issue of pre-existing conditions is not just a minor policy distinction. Democrats frequently call Mitt Romney a liar. In this case at least, that’s close to being correct. Romney attempted to suggest that his healthcare policy would do what Obamacare does: cover people with pre-existing conditions, when in fact all it would do would leave things the way they already are. Obama’s actually extends coverage to those with pre-existing conditions who do not already have it, giving them protection that Mitt Romney is only pretending to offer. Obama said that, but he should have shouted it! He should have banged his fist on the podium! He should have looked Mitt Romney dead in the eye without flinching, turning away or looking strangely apologetic as he often did, and made it clear that Mitt Romney was flat out wrong. Instead Romney made the case, without saying it in so many words, that Obama was flat out incompetent, and because he seemed to mean it, what he said stuck while Obama’s case fell flat.

Politics is about substance, about policy, about ideas, but it is also about theatrics and performance, because that is the way you communicate and simplify those ideas into things people can understand. Barack Obama’s brilliance as a politician always seemed to be that he understood this better than anyone else. If he’s going to win re-election, it’s a lesson he will have to learn again. Politics is a battle. Be honorable, be honest as possible, but be real. You cannot win the fight if you don’t fight to win. Mitt Romney knows that. Time will tell if Obama remembers.

The Civil Rights Legacy of George Romney

It is interesting to note that in America’s first election involving a black president that it is not the president who possesses a family legacy in the Civil Rights Movement, but rather his white opponent, former governor Mitt Romney. In the early 1960’s, relatively few prominent politicians took a bold stance in favor of full integration and equal rights between the races. One of the few who did was Republican Governor George Romney, of Michigan.

At the age of sixteen Mitt Romney was going door to door in Detroit on behalf of his father’s gubernatorial re-election campaign, soliciting support not just for his father but for his father’s pro civil rights agenda. It was a hard sell in many cases. While the Republican Party of the sixties was not necessarily anymore opposed to civil rights than was the Democratic Party, if not a bit less so, there were many segregationists in the GOP and in Michigan who were infuriated at George Romney’s support of the movement, and with some justification; many who had voted for him were unaware of his support for the cause until a picture was published of him marching shoulder to shoulder with Detroit NAACP president Edward Turner and hundreds of other whites and blacks through a suburb of Detroit, protesting housing discrimination. (Martin Luther King, Jr., who encouraged Romney to run for president, led a march the following day which Governor Romney declined to attend only on account of it being the sabbath.) He received angry communications from constituents who had voted for him, calling him a “Judas to the people who voted for you, and a “dead-duck” for re-election in ’64. Anger at Romney however did not only come from voters in Detroit; he also experienced it at the hands of the LDS (Mormon) church, of which he was a respected leader. The church itself was segregated at that time, and at least one prominent leader accused Romney of supporting “vicious legislation” vis-a-viz the 1964 Civil Rights Act that seemed to rebuke the churches teachings on black people. While Romney felt religious duty bound him not to criticize the church publicly, he nevertheless believed in a more liberal interpretation of Mormon doctrine with respect to blacks and pushed for that view within the church (a view that ultimately prevailed upon the churches integration in 1978). In the wider world of politics however he was free to speak more boldly, going as far as to refuse to endorse his party’s nominee, Barry Goldwater, for president in ’64 because, as he told Goldwater himself, he feared his campaign would “make an all-out push for the southern segregationist vote in the south,”.

George Romney did more than pay lip service to the issue of Civil Rights. As Governor he enacted controversial policies that benefited the black community in Michigan, and ultimately across the country, though he never achieved the level of success he desired. Taking office as Governor in 1962 Romney declared: “Michigan’s most urgent human rights problem is racial discrimination,” and then promptly set up the first civil rights commission in Michigan’s history. Later on, as Richard Nixon’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary Romney crafted the Fair Housing Act, moving new HUD housing programs to become increasingly desegregated, to the increasing anger of some whites. But politics, especially within the Nixon administration, soured Romney on the ability of Government to achieve significant reforms on behalf of civil rights, and Romney increasingly sought to convince the black community that they could turn to the private sector, to businesses and non-profits, to help solve their problems. But blacks were highly skeptical of this approach, and so Romney in time came to seem naive to the black community, just as his zeal for civil rights in the first place increasingly ostracized him from the growing social conservative base of the Republican Party. He retired from politics in 1973, and enjoyed more satisfaction heading up volunteer organizations as a private citizen. He died in 1995.

George Romney was a champion for civil rights, a man who might have been president, who lost more than he gained politically because of his stand. What, if anything, his legacy tells us about Mitt Romney’s character and his commitment to helping the black community as a President of the United States is of course an open question. But it is worth recognizing that there have been politicians in times gone by who took a stand for social justice in America, and that Mitt Romney’s father, George Romney, was one of them.

Defending Black Republicanism (Part 1 of 3)

There is an interesting psychological phenomenon that persists in black politics and in African-American society generally; one that has stubbornly bore down roots since at least the early seventies and beyond. It is a striking manifestation of identity politics that has gone too far for too long, retarding the political, and arguably the socioeconomic, growth of black America. That phenomenon is the near totality of our people’s unyielding devotion to one political party, our correspondingly bitter and intractable opposition to the main alternative,  and the anti-intellectual and, frankly, hurtful dismissiveness with which the large majority of blacks who pay allegiance to one  party treat the small minority who hold with the other. What I am referring to is, of course, the now longstanding black reliance on, and attachment to, the Democratic Party, and our longstanding opposition to, and reviling of, the Republican Party. This, believe it or not, is not a good thing. The potential progress of black America in the twenty-first century will be essentially capped until we outgrow this ideological bigotry.

I say ideological bigotry because that, for far too many black liberals and democrats, is what their opposition to conservatism and Republicans generally, amounts to. You see it expressed in film, stand up comedy and on the street level. Republicans and black Republicans particularly are portrayed as greedy, naive, uncle Toms, etc. That’s no way to characterize people we disagree with. But furthermore this ignores the broader history of the Republican party and the historical relationship it has had with the black community.

Let’s begin with the origins of black animosity towards the Republican party, for which there is a legitimate cause. Only a minority of black people nowadays seem to know or remember the fact that the vast majority of black Americans were Republicans all the way until the late sixties. That ended with the polarizing divisions wrought by the battles of the Civil Rights Movement and then with the adoption of the “Southern Strategy,” a term then popularized by prominent GOP strategist Kevin Phillips, who described it thusly:

“From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”

There was then in the late sixties a vast constituency swap, whereupon black Republicans almost en masse became Democrats and southern (mostly middle class) white Democrats became Republicans. Given that this were the case one might be tempted to think that the Republican party must have fought tooth and nail against the Civil Rights Act and the movement towards integration, but the truth is far more mixed. The greatest political opposition to the movement came from southern white Democrats, who would eventually become Republicans. At the same time western, mid-western and northern Democrats like John Kennedy, and some southern Democrats (particularly President Lyndon Johnson) were on the side of racial progress and President Johnson in particular showed great courage in pushing the Civil Rights Act through congress. (Johnson knew that to sign the bill would be to, in his own words, “sign away the south for fifty years,” but he did it anyway.) The support of Democrats like Kennedy, Johnson and others in congress and across the country gives Democrats a viable claim to much of the success of the Civil Rights era. Still, in congress roughly 80% of Republicans voted for passage of the bill in both the House and Senate, as opposed to roughly 60% of Democrats in the House and a little less than 70% in the Senate. The triumph of civil rights was a bipartisan triumph therefore, but in congress there was more unified support for these landmark changes among Republicans than Democrats.

There are other positive things to be said about the Democratic Party and it’s historical relationship to African-Americans. Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court Justice and a champion of civil liberties, was a black Democrat. Adam Clayton Powell, the first black congressman in New York’s history and the first from any northern state outside Illinois since reconstruction, was a Democrat (served 1945-1971). But Martin Luther King, Jr., the single most important figure in the Civil Rights Movement, was a Republican and an active one at that. He endorsed Richard Nixon for the governorship of California in 1964, something that is not widely known. Furthermore, he encouraged the presidential candidacy of the anti-segregationist Republican governor of Michigan, Governor George Romney, who was of course the father of Mitt Romney, ironically the man who is favored to carry the GOP banner against Barack Obama this year.

Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, and although some  have cast doubt upon the legacy of Lincoln as the “Great Emancipator,” the fact remains that he legally freed the slaves and that he  was always an abolitionist, as most Republicans were. Frederick Douglass, (to whom Lincoln bequeathed his iconic walking stick upon his death), was a Republican and even received a vote in the electoral college for the presidency (obviously the first for a black American). Every black elected politician and appointed official was almost certainly Republican during the reconstruction era. That changed after the Civil Rights Movement reached it’s zenith in the sixties of course, and after that a strong faction of segregationists did emerge in the Republican Party because they came from the Democratic party (invited in by cynical GOP strategists and political elites). Even so, it was Ronald Reagan who signed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day into law, and while he probably did not really wish to do so, then Vice-President George H.W. Bush fought hard behind the scenes to see its passage and ultimately both parties voted for it by wide margins.

Black Americans have always had a home in the Republican Party. Those of us who have remained in it or returned to it should be respected, I feel, for to us it is not just the party of Reagan, but the party of Lincoln, of Douglass, of Booker T. Washington, and of King.

The Rise of Herman Cain

Who is Herman Cain? I would wager that most people, maybe even most black people, did not know before a couple weeks ago. Heck, maybe most still don’t know. But for those who are paying attention he has quickly emerged as a fascinating figure on the political landscape and an increasingly significant one.Two and a half years after this nation swore in it’s first black president (an event thought nearly impossible by a majority of black-Americans just a year before)  it is just possible that it could happen again.

The successful former chairman and CEO of the Godfather’s Pizza chain, and a fairly popular political voice in conservative circles since the early nineties, Herman Cain has much more than that to boast of in terms of accomplishments. In fact, the life of the self-made Georgia millionaire (born in 1945) reveals a long list of impressive achievements: he graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelors in Mathematics in ’67, he graduated from Purdue with a Master’s in computer science in ’71 (while also working as a ballistics analyst for the Naval department at the same time). He then went to work for Coca Cola as a computer systems analyst, then found himself working for Pillsbury, whose President soon entrusted Cain with the responsibility of revitalizing 400 Burger King locations in the Philadelphia area, (the least profitable restaurants in Pillsbury’s recently acquired Burger King chain). Herman Cain turned them into the most profitable Burger King locations in only a few short years. As a result of his success, Cain was appointed President and CEO of another Pillsbury subsidiary: Godfather’s Pizza, which he also turned from a languishing company to an ultimately profitable chain. He resigned that position in 1996. He has also served as the deputy chairman and the chairman of the Federal Reserve bank of Kansas City in addition to being a  political columnist, talk radio show host and Baptist Minister. Perhaps most incredibly, Herman Cain is a survivor of stage four colon cancer. He and wife Gloria have two children and three grand-children.

That Herman Cain is smart and accomplished there is no question. That he is a relatively viable presidential candidate, while this was an idea easy to dismiss even several weeks ago, also cannot be doubted. For a peculiar combination of Herman Cain’s own talents and resourcefulness in addition to a unique set of political circumstances in the Republican party has allowed Mr. Cain (who has proven himself  a galvanizing speaker and an increasingly powerful debater) to emerge, at this stage in the race, as the definite number two candidate (and not too far behind number one contender Mitt Romney at that). The lack of an obvious champion among Republicans and the mistrust many Tea Party Republicans have of former Governor Romney in addition to the slow motion implosion of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s candidacy has left Cain as the most appealing alternative to Republican voters hungry to see some one with the right strengths and values confront not only President Obama, but to some degree the Republican party establishment itself. This is Herman Cain’s hour and it will be interesting to see what he does with it.

So the question that remains is what should black people think of him? Being a Republican myself (though not quite so conservative as Herman Cain) I have no problem with his running for the GOP nomination, in fact I think most black people would be proud of his success just as we were and continue to be proud of Barack Obama. But Herman Cain represents a strain of political thought that is well outside the mainstream of most black political philosophy. Not for Herman Cain are the wonders of the welfare state. Though he has offered few specifics in this regard, it seems clear that he is ready to drastically cut federal spending on public and entitlement programs while initiating his catchy and controversial “9-9-9” tax plan, drastically cutting income taxes for not just the rich but for all Americans, yet simultaneously significantly increasing consumption taxes which would have a disproportionately negative affect on poorer and middle income Americans, blacks especially. This stands in stark contrast to the policy preferences of President Barack Obama, who has made clear that he wants to raise taxes on the top income earners in this country in an effort to preserve as much in the way of public benefits as he can. Who is right? Public spending does a lot of good for black Americans who are traditionally disadvantaged in terms of educational and, consequently, economic opportunities in this country and thereby wind up needing some assistance from the government to get by.  But on the other hand, no amount of public welfare can replace the value of having a job, not just in terms of earning potential but in terms of self-esteem and real psychological value. President Obama’s policies have thus far not succeeded in dramatically reversing the downward spiral of American employment in general and black unemployment in particular. With the large sums of money that would be freed up for investment and consumption for most American’s by the 9-9-9 plan, it is just possible that a real surge in job creation might follow under Cain where it has thus far failed under Obama.

What Cain would and could do as president of course is mostly hypothetical. We do not yet know him as well as we will have to to understand just what type of leader he might prove to be when the pressure is on and in any event, it is still not likely that he will be able to overcome the advantages of big money and political experience that his chief rival Mitt Romney possesses. Even so, if we are honest with ourselves and each other, the example of Herman Cain should give us some reason to smile. He is another shining example of what our people are capable of when we believe in ourselves and our abilities. You do not have to agree with his politics to see that, in this respect, he is every bit as much a role model as Barack Obama. Whether he can win the Republican nomination, much less the presidency, much less still the support of a broad number of African-Americans is an open question. But the case is closed on the ability of the man. Love him or hate him, Herman Cain is a force with which to be reckoned.