Can Cain avoid becoming another Alan Keyes?

OPINION - Presently, Cain is the current Republican party's black BFF, while Alan Keyes is somewhat of a black conservative pioneer...

Herman Cain’s win in the much overhyped Florida straw poll of only 2,000 very conservative primary voters, was a signal to the mainstream media that he is a “serious” candidate for the GOP nomination.

With his “9-9-9” tax plan, his everyday guy “plain speak,” and his southern gospel twang Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s pizza, has become a GOP favorite among a laundry list of possible presidential nominees as is now regularly polling third (or in some cases a strong second).

The GOP field is crowded and it seems that every week, the media and the GOP base are clamoring for another candidate to jump in the race. Cain has been in the crowded field since the beginning, seeming to weather the onslaught of new GOP favorites with the support of conservative icons like Rush Limbaugh who has described Cain as more “authentically black” than President Obama.

[MSNBCMSN video=”″ w=”592″ h=”346″ launch_id=”44763642^10780^85740″ id=”msnbc78aa5a”]

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Cain has proclaimed that Americans are “over the whole first African-American president thing” and most recently made the claim that black people are “brainwashed” into voting for Democrats.

A brief moment of sanity for the GOP presidential hopeful came this week when Cain criticized his opponent Governor Rick Perry for the name of his family’s hunting ranch, Ni**erhead.

It’s “insensitive” Cain said, until Limbaugh attacked Cain and he was “forced” to walk back his critique of Perry. Cain is constantly on the precipice of becoming a has been in the GOP, as losing favor with Limbaugh indicates, which means that unless he turns things around he is in danger of becoming the second coming of Alan Keyes.
Alan Keyes and Herman Cain are both black and they are both conservative. Both men are on the far right of the political spectrum in a party which is moving farther and farther to the right every day. Both are black in a party which is heavily influenced by the Tea Party and where faces of color are few and policy positions are extreme.

Presently, Cain is the current Republican party’s black BFF, while Alan Keyes is somewhat of a black conservative pioneer.

Alan Keyes was then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama’s opponent for the U.S. Senate in 2004. Keyes initially polled decently in the statewide race but his radical views quickly contributed to a steep drop in the polls. Keyes’ argument against gay marriage is so original and over the top he should get some points for the sheer level of creative bigotry.

In a Senate debate with Obama over gay marriage and gay adoption, Keyes said, that because of sperm donor anonymity a hypothetical lesbian couple could adopt a child who would be able to determine who their father is and therefore would be put at risk of marrying their sister or brother.

Keyes doesn’t necessarily explain his “logic” in concluding that gay adoption leads to incest but then again he doesn’t seem to see how if his premise is taken as valid there is a risk of that with all adoptions with anonymous sperm donors. Keyes has since gone as far as to compare marriage equality to slavery.

Most recently, Keyes has solidified his position as literally the last birther standing. This week, his lawsuit claiming that President Obama, who has already released his long form birth certificate, is not eligible to be president was thrown out by the Supreme Court

Keyes apparently became convinced ever since 2004 that Obama wasn’t American. Wonder if that was before or after Obama trounced him in an election?

Cain and Keyes have similar political views but stylistically they are very different. Cain’s personality is more likable and he can prevent turning into Keyes 2.0 if he avoids sprinting down the road to Republican crazy town where there is a conspiracy theory around every corner.

Even when Cain ventures into the more ridiculous, like warning that Sharia Law is a threat to the states, you get the sense that he’s just like your eccentric uncle reciting the contents of a chain email without googling first to see if it’s false.

When Cain is talking about his experience as a CEO he sounds like a businessman with some conservative viewpoints he may have picked up from his fellow CEOs at the country club. When Cain tries to comment on anything outside his patent catchy quips and phrases he sounds inexperienced and out of his element.

Unlike Keyes, Cain is not so rigid in his positions as to sound other worldly but Cain’s often sounds like he needs to study more about our world before anyone will seriously support his ability to govern it.

So Cain doesn’t necessarily risk becoming Keyes as much as he risks becoming the future CEO of Dominos once the GOP campaign season is over. If Cain can avoid repeating Internet based conspiracy theories on the air and filing lawsuits based on right wing wishful thinking, like Keyes (even once they are repeatedly proven false), he has a bright future as a Fox News contributor.