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I watched presidential candidate Herman Cain on The Tonight Show the other day. He’d gotten my attention after Anderson Cooper called to ask what I thought about Cain’s recent comment about African Americans being brainwashed into voting Democratic. I thought that Cain’s remarks were curious for a number of reasons, mainly because they insulted the intelligence of millions of Black Democrats.

Ironically, Cain is correct that many voters are brainwashed in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. But what he left out is that brainwashed voters lie on both sides of the aisle, not just in the Democratic Party. Cain, as a man who recites party lines that are in almost complete lockstep with the Republican handbook of political discourse, should rightly be the first target of brainwashing allegations. Also, being the only Republican who discusses President Obama’s race on a regular basis, Cain is also marketing himself as the dark-faced puppet of those who are afraid to touch the issue. Are there any other Republican candidates who discuss race as much as Cain? I rest my case.

Herman Cain believes that his strong performance in a recent Florida straw poll has suddenly made him into a serious political player. He yucked it up with Jay Leno with the confidence of an uneducated NBA player who’d just signed a one-year contract. Cain’s overconfidence will be short-lived, because anyone watching the Leno show could easily see that a man as goofy, arrogant and simple-minded as Cain could never be taken seriously enough to be president. In fact, Cain isn’t even good enough to be artificially propped up as a Black Republican who could challenge President Obama.

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I don’t make these remarks about Cain because he is a conservative; I make them because he remains a political joke. Colin Powell, a far more serious and measured Republican, would be the kind of candidate that Americans of all backgrounds could support. Herman Cain has made a living by saying the kinds of racist things that right wing folks like to hear; and also by throwing angry rhetorical fireballs at President Obama in the name of Tea Party hatred. Racism is typically most effective when it has a Black face, and Cain is merely a modern-day artifact of House Negro attacks during slavery.

Cain is a weak leader because he has not defined himself as a man of meaningful principle, nor as a human being who possesses political skills necessary to make him anything more than the Republican jester. His thoughts are rarely original, and I find his mannerisms while communicating to hardly garner the kind of respect that one would give to the President of the United States. George Bush might have been able to get elected while not being presidential material, but Cain will never get that chance. While conservatives might be glad to use Cain to advance their motives, they will surely spit him out if he ever decides to truly lead the party in a direction that has not been previously programmed into his skull.

Making a long story short, Herman Cain should be careful about using the term “brainwashed” toward anyone, for that’s exactly the term that comes to mind when I think about his short-lived run for president. Cain’s decision to run as a walking gimmick demeans himself, his party and all of those who support him. Florida’s results have made the cocky man even cockier, but he’ll soon be yanked back down to earth. He also needs to realize that a man can achieve his goals without insulting his own people.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.