On Saturday, surging GOP presidential contender Herman Cain twice suggested that if elected, he wouldn't just build an anti-immigration fence along the U.S.-Mexico border — he'd electrify it. "And there's going to be a sign on the other side saying, 'It will kill you — Warning,'" he told a crowd in Harriman, Tenn., to loud cheers. Cain also said he'd consider stationing U.S. troops "with real guns and real bullets" along the border. Asked about his remarks on Sunday morning's Meet the Press, Cain said: "That's a joke.... That's not a serious plan. I've also said America needs to get a sense of humor." Should we take his "joke" seriously?
He was pandering, not joking: Conservatives always use this "it was a joke" dodge when caught saying "something disgusting to pander to the loony base," says Charles Johnson in Little Green Footballs. The only joke here is Cain falling back on such a "tired and worn out" excuse. And even if "Cain's little xenophobic jest about killing Mexicans" was meant to be funny, note that his eager audience was cheering, not laughing.
"Herman Cain on his electrified fence: 'That's a joke'"
Oh, lighten up... a little: In Cain's defense, he "did not say the fence would be fatal; he said the signs would say it would be fatal," says Tom Maguire in Just One Minute. And "maybe a slight shock to the scared and suggestible would be sufficient" to dissuade illegal immigrants from crossing the border. Still, Cain should tread carefully in his new frontrunner shoes. The talk radio crowd may eat this up, but if Republicans "wanted to nominate a kook or a crank, we would get behind Ron Paul."
"OK, this is kooky"
Who's not laughing? GOP strategists: Joke or not, I bet Cain "got very quick feedback from top GOPers" on Saturday night, says Joe Gandelman in The Moderate Voice. Despite what "many smug Democrats" think, the growing Hispanic vote is still up for grabs. But it won't be if the GOP nominee is on record suggesting "de facto American government sanctioned electrocution" for the misdemeanor offense of border-crossing. The GOP won't pick Cain now, "unless it truly has a death wish."
"Herman Cain and the mainstream RIP: Proposes electrified border fence"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why all drugs should be legal. (Yes, even heroin.)
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The forgotten victims of the war in Ukraine
- 10 things you need to know today: July 28, 2014
- A gay Mormon's complicated journey
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- Blame Obama and U.S. evangelicals for the persecution of Iraqi Christians
- 7 ideas from ancient thinkers that will improve your modern life
Subscribe to the Week