NY Magazine’s Frank Rich: Obama presidency paved way for Herman Cain

Jeff Poor | Media Reporter

While there are cynics on the left that question the motivations behind former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s recent meteoric rise in polls, there are others on the left that see it as progress.

In an appearance on Don Imus’ radio program, liberal New York Magazine columnist Frank Rich downplayed Cain’s naysayers and said that black Republicans and conservatives shouldn’t be dismissed as lacking credibility.

“The truth is, there are not that many black Republicans,” Rich said. “But look, there are some, including intellectual leaders like Shelby Steele and Thomas Sowell, and, occasionally, a candidate.”

Rich praised Cain for not using racial elements in his campaign and credited his style for some of his success. However, he explained it was the era of President Barack Obama that has made that possible.

“I have to say this is about Herman Cain: He really doesn’t play any kind of a race card and when I see him … I’m not really conscious of his race or there’s something odd about him being a black Republican, but he’s a showman,” Rich said.

“I think one thing that’s come out of the Obama rise to the presidency is … people think about [race] less. I think it’s made it more part of the American landscape that we don’t think about those things quite so much and divide everyone into racial groups the moment we see them.”

“I feel that clichés are beginning to topple,” he added.

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Rich disagreed with some critics, saying that Cain’s success is not because he is an “Oreo’ — a prerogative that implies someone is black on the outside and white on the inside.

“[I] have to say that Herman Cain strikes me … as a completely original guy that can’t be pigeon-holed in that way and people that respond to him. He’s got a sense of self that’s very highly developed, and he doesn’t seem like he’s afraid of anything.”

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