Political Animal


October 31, 2011 3:50 PM Cain is not without his defenders

By Steve Benen

Right Wing Watch rounds up some of the higher-profile defenses Herman Cain has received today in light of his sexual harassment allegations, but it was Rush Limbaugh’s tirade that stood out for me.

As Limbaugh sees it, the media is racist. There was no evidence he was kidding.

“You know, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, folks. After all of these years, none of us should be surprised, but I still am. Look at how quickly what is known as the mainstream media goes for the ugliest racial stereotypes they can to attack a black conservative. […]

“What’s next, folks? A cartoon on MSNBC showing Herman Cain with huge lips eating a watermelon? What are they gonna do next? No, Snerdley, I’m not kidding. The racial stereotypes that these people are using to go after Herman Cain, what is the one thing that it tells us? It tells us who the real racists are, yeah, but it tells us that Herman Cain is somebody.”

A couple of things. First, if we want to know “who the real racists are” in media, we’d start with Rush Limbaugh.

Second, the Cain campaign isn’t even denying the basic premise of the Politico article that Limbaugh is so worked up about. The piece said Cain was accused of sexual harassment; Cain has said he was accused of sexual harassment. The piece said Cain’s accusers left after a financial settlement, and the campaign isn’t disputing this, either. So what is it, exactly, that the “mainstream media” has done to offend?

And third, I’ll concede that I don’t generally keep up on what bigots are saying about various groups, but there’s a “racial stereotype” that African-American men in the workplace sexually harass their female employees? Since when?

What on earth is Limbaugh talking about?

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • NHCt on October 31, 2011 3:59 PM:

    Come on, Steve, I know you know what Limbaugh is talking about. He may be a total douchebag, but the sterotype he is alluding to is as old as slavery: the black man as sexual predator. You know this, right? Of course you do. Clearly, you're just having some fun with Rushbo.

  • Lance on October 31, 2011 4:02 PM:

    What on earth is Limbaugh talking about?

    Clarence Thomas of course.

    Don't you see the parallel?

    CNN just claimed someone is denying the whole thing.

  • Steven Rumbalski on October 31, 2011 4:02 PM:

    I find it rich that Rush Limbaugh is using the race card.

  • Cap'n Phealy on October 31, 2011 4:03 PM:

    I am loath to grant that Limbaugh may actually know anything about anything, but I must admit, he's probably more au courant with the latest in bigoted tropes than I am.

    How else does he keep his own bigotry so fresh?

  • Anonymous on October 31, 2011 4:06 PM:


    The Right has a long memory. Sometimes I think 1/2 of the Clinton impeachment debacle was payback for Nixon and Watergate. The actual merits of the cases don't matter.

    With Cain, I'd bet that Limbaugh was thinking of Clarence Thomas and his "high-tech lynching" complaint. I'm surprised Limbaugh didn't make the parallel himself.

  • August Pollak on October 31, 2011 4:07 PM:

    And third, I’ll concede that I don’t generally keep up on what bigots are saying about various groups, but there’s a “racial stereotype” that African-American men in the workplace sexually harass their female employees? Since when?

    This was the one that befuddled me too- I honest to god did not understand how paying off two sexual harassment claims constituted "racism."

    Then it hit me: it's "racist" because Herman Cain is black, as was Clarence Thomas, who they feel was also unfairly accused of sexual harassment.

    So... that's actually it. No, really. Reporting that Cain was accused of sexual harassment is racist because another black conservative was also accused of sexual harassment twenty years ago.

  • martin on October 31, 2011 4:23 PM:

    Isn't Rush Limbaugh the one who brags about having a sign in the office that says something like "Sexual Harassment is not condoned... it is encouraged"

    And speaking of racist crap, check out this WashTimes editorial which Limbaugh read approvingly almost in its entirety this afternoon:


  • Mike on October 31, 2011 4:23 PM:

    "What on earth is Limbaugh talking about?"

    I've been asking myself that question for years.

    Remember that, like a bratty 10-year-old, Limbaugh tends to say things to draw attention to himself, to get himself some free publicity.

    And, look, it worked again.

  • Rick Massimo on October 31, 2011 4:26 PM:

    "What on earth is Limbaugh talking about?"

    Stick your head into the back of an high-revving jet engine. That's what Rush Limbaugh is doing. One of The Team has been Attacked, and he must scream his head off. That's all he does. That's all he ever does. That's all he has ever known how to do.

  • chi res on October 31, 2011 4:34 PM:

    Limbaugh is right; the media is racist.

    Cain, however, is not currently the target of their racism.

  • mike reilly on October 31, 2011 5:02 PM:

    Mr. U-becky-becky-stan needs to walk the talk. Wasn't HE the one who said that "if your not rich, don't blame the banks, blame yourself".

    Hey buster, you were President of the Rest.Association which paid two people to go away. Blame YOURSELF, not the media or the liberals.

  • Robert Waldmann on October 31, 2011 5:03 PM:

    Clearly there is a racial stereotype that that African-American men in the workplace sexually harass their female employees, at least in Limbaugh's mind. I don't consider him expert on much, but he sure is expert on what at least one racist thinks. Clearly the accusation against Cain by two un/named subordinates* corresponds to part of Limbaugh's deeply racist image of African Americans.

    *fellow employees of the National Restaurant Association not Cain's employees -- Cain was working as a salaried lobbyist not an entrepreneur at the time.

  • IDTT on October 31, 2011 5:17 PM:

    He's talking about the stereotype about the hypersexuality of black men. Of couurse, he's used it enough himself to be an expert.

  • Taylor on October 31, 2011 5:23 PM:

    Rush actually accused the women who complained of being racist also. He did so by posing the question "Would the accusers have been uncomfortable if Herman Cain was a white man?" I guess he thinks women would consider it was appropriate or flattering if done by a white man but are afraid when its done by an angry black man.

    Rush is a true talent as he can rail against the Republicans being called racist and use the race card against whites to support a black conservative. Maybe he doesn't even believe the racist crap he spews. It's just for ratings, ya know.

  • TCinLA on October 31, 2011 6:03 PM:

    What’s next, folks? A cartoon on MSNBC showing Herman Cain with huge lips eating a watermelon?

    No, I believe that was done a few months back by some Doctor in Florida who was at the time a Tea Party "leader," and then he tried to say "it's all just a joke, folks." Not to mention all the other Republican chain e-mails that had this sort of thing: a picture of a "witch doctor" with Obama's head pasted on, etc., etc.

    Limpdick and his boners, er, I mean dittoheads, live in an up-is-down, right-is-left, day-is-night, right-is-wrong universe.

  • Kane on October 31, 2011 7:23 PM:

    I suppose the reaction of those on the right to rally around Cain is to be expected. But what happens to that support from those on the right if the faceless and nameless women who accused Cain of sexual harassment turn out to be white? It's one thing for those on the right to defend Clarence Thomas when his accuser is black. It's another thing altogether to ask those on the right to take the word of a black man over the word of two white women accusers.

  • rip on October 31, 2011 7:55 PM:

    Limbaugh is a cranky and bitter old man. I'll catch snippets of his radio show while driving around and this morning a caller called in to complain about the attention being given to the Cain sexual harassment story by Rush and asked that he use his soapbox to talk more about the potential Republican Senate candidates whose victories would help overturn "Obamacare". Limbaugh's response was to tell the guy that if he didn't like what he was hearing he could listen to something else. Apparently even the "dittoheads" get on his nerves if they do anything but reaffirm his bloated sense of self-importance.

  • cld on October 31, 2011 8:50 PM:

    The thing is,

    the only thing that will ever cure conservatives of general racism is for them to keep telling themselves 'liberals are the real racists' long enough.

  • Brownell on October 31, 2011 9:15 PM:

    The sexual harassment "issue" is simple semantics. The allegation was that Cain made off-color remarks and suggestive gestures (one definition of sexual harassment), and Cain replied that he never groped or intimidated anyone (his definition of sexual harassment). And, yes Limbaugh is a flaming racist and both Cain and Limbaugh are sexist. And the mainstream media can only repeat which one said what. There are no surprises here. To me, the larger issue is that for the umpteenth time the media has repeated the Cain narrative that he's a real businessman, not part of the Washington DC sewer. The man left his Godfather's Pizza job in 1996, for heaven's sake, and what did he do after that? He went to Washington as a full-time lobbyist. And the media stories dutifully report that the sexual harassment business took place at the American Restaurant Associate which is a lobbying group. But they're only interested in the sexual harassment, not that CAIN WAS A FULL-TIME LOBBYIST. I do not approve of sexual harassment, even small-time stuff, but knocking down Cain's image as the Black Knight riding in to clean up Washington is more important to me.

  • POed Lib on October 31, 2011 9:58 PM:

    We need to write a new song. We can call it "Herman the magic negro". Rush'll like that song. He'll play it on his radio show.

  • Donna on October 31, 2011 11:17 PM:

    So...Bill Clinton fits into the "racial stereotype" because he was sort-of our first black president?