Does Herman Cain's rise prove that the Tea Party isn't racist?

The small-government protest movement opposes America's first black president — but loves the man trying to become the GOP's first black nominee

In one new poll, two-thirds of Tea Partiers score Herman Cain favorably, and some say this proves that the grassroots movement has been colorblind all along.
(Image credit: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Corbis)

Of all the things Tea Partiers hate — socialism, President Obama, Big Government — perhaps none wrankles them more than the allegation that they're racist. Now, many Tea Party backers are lining up behind a black man, Herman Cain, as their choice for president. In a new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, 69 percent of Tea Party supporters gave the former Godfather's Pizza CEO a "favorable" score. Does this prove once and for all that the Tea Party isn't racist?

Yes. This confirms the racism smear was bogus: The Left can't deal with "Herman Cain's rise to Tea Party favorite and top-tier GOP candidate," says Jonathan Neumann at Commentary, because it torpedoes liberals' desperate attempt to paint anyone who differs with them as racist. The truth is that conservatives "care less about race than liberals do." The accusation that the Tea Party's opposition to Obama or illegal immigration was based on race was always a "vulgar mischaracterization."

"Study smears Tea Party again"

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No. Cain is the exception who proves the rule: "Racial animus" is not the defining element of Tea Party ideology, says Leonard Pitts Jr. at The Miami Herald, but it's part of it. Conservatives like "two kinds of blacks." One, like Condoleezza Rice, is too polite to bring up race at all. The other "engages on race," but only to lecture blacks about how they have "the same opportunities to succeed as whites if they'd only get off their lazy so-and-sos and do it." That's "Herman Cain all over." Indeed, Cain "neatly encapsulates what has become an article of faith" for many Tea Partiers: "Namely, that it is they, not black and brown people, who are the true victims of bigotry."

"Explaining Herman Cain"

Regardless, Cain will soon fade: Cain "may or may not be proof of the Tea Party's color-blindness," says Peter St. Onge at The Charlotte Observer. And in truth, the Tea Party movement does seem far more focused "on government largesse than the skin color of the people benefiting from it." But either way, this debate won't last long. Cain's signature 9-9-9 tax plan has been universally panned by economists, and it's all but certain that his "time at the top of the polls" will be quite short.

"Is Herman Cain proof the Tea Party isn't racist?"

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