The left is beginning to panic, and with good reason. Despite the misery of Barack Obama's presidential record, those who were his fellow travelers on the road to "fundamentally transforming America" always felt that they held a trump card in their back pocket come November 2012. And they made no effort to hide their intention to use it.
Notorious race-baiter Tavis Smiley of PBS bragged to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell in April of this year that, "this presidential race...[is] going to be the ugliest, the nastiest, the most divisive, and the most racist in the history of this Republic." Before the Republican presidential field had even been settled, no less a nominee been chosen, liberals like Smiley exhibited no hesitation about asserting that skin color was going to be the dominant issue of the campaign. Never mind that Barack Obama had captured a larger percentage of white votes than either Al Gore in 2000 or John Kerry in 2004, and that by any fair analysis, his racial diversity helped him in his bid for the presidency far more than it hurt him. None of that was going to deter liberals in their quest to ensure Obama a second term based on his racial qualification alone.
If Smiley was right - that this election cycle would be the most racist in our history - it should have been clear that was because his fellow liberals were determined to make it such, finding racism in the most bizarre and benign of places. Take Ed Schultz's recent accusation that Republican opposition to the Occupy Wall Street protesters - a group that by most accounts could be considered lily white - was based on a "problem with race." Or consider Morgan Freeman and Samuel L. Jackson's mindless smears that those who rationally object to Obama having run up more debt in three years than every president from George Washington to George H.W. Bush combined, were really motivated by a desire to "get the black man out of office." It's pretty clear to see that liberals had embraced a "no bridge too far, no logic too tortured" policy on crying racism.
But the surging candidacy of charismatic Republican businessman Herman Cain has caused the confident poker face of the left to begin to crack. As the rags-to-riches personal testimony of this self-made black man resonates in the ears of the inner city poor who for too long have been told that they need handouts from white liberals in order to survive, the once imposing race card is losing its luster for the jokers who clutch it in their increasingly sweaty and shaky hands.
After all, how credible is the charge of white-on-black racism against a movement that is touting a black man as their standard bearer? For the answer, venture into the dark recesses of cable television to find Al Gore's Current TV network (by the way, how much of a carbon footprint does running a television station leave these days?). Back in August, Keith Olbermann hosted alleged comedian Janeane Garofalo, one of the few D-listers for whom an invite to come on "Countdown" is actually still alluring. Asked about Cain's popularity within the Republican Party, Garofalo demonstrated the perilous state of the liberal race canard by brilliantly concluding that, "Herman Cain...is being paid by somebody to be involved and to run for president," in order to deflect charges of racism made against the right. When prodded, she envisioned Karl Rove sitting behind his Dr. Evil control panel and funding this Cain charade.
There is, of course, only one significant problem with her explanation. Even if we went on a Garofalo acid trip and assumed Rove was funding Cain's candidacy, what accounts for hoards of racist tea partiers and conservatives supporting him? Perhaps the Koch brothers are paying all of them too?
Here's the scary reality for the left: the right's opposition to Obama has always been predicated upon his bad policies and not upon his race. The ascension of Herman Cain proves that to be the case. Conservatives didn't mind a black president.they just didn't want a socialist one. Cain still has a long road to travel, to be sure. But should he win the nomination, the left's best hope for distracting from Obama's failed record as a steward of the country's economy goes by the wayside.
What will remain is a side-by-side comparison of two remarkably different men. One who preaches the necessity of government dependency versus the other whose life proves the superiority of self-reliance and personal responsibility...one who seeks to fundamentally transform America, the other who fundamentally embodies America.
A Cain nomination means the presidential race becomes about message rather than melanin. That's a competition the left knows they won't win.
This column was first published at The American Thinker.