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Herman Cain, Dada Auteur | The Nation

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Leslie Savan

Politics, media and the politics of media.

Herman Cain, Dada Auteur

A few thoughts about this absolutely kooky Cain ad:

I know that when Mark Block blows smoke in our faces, it’s supposed to be a big up-yours to us nanny-staters who’d impinge on his personal freedom, including the right to smoke himself to death if he damn well pleases. But turn off the sound, and it comes off more like an anti-tobacco ad, you know, the kind in which a drained-looking nicotine addict warns kids not to ruin their lives as he’s ruined his.

But the real purpose of the spot may simply be to prove that Cain has a chief of staff (and thus a staff), what with the media counting Cain out for having almost no ground game, no staff and no presence in the early primary states.

In any case, Mark Block isn’t just any old grizzled, diehard loyalist. As TPM points out, Block came to Cain from Americans for Prosperity, the hard-right Astroturf group financed by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists who go further back with Cain than many of us realized.

The usually amiable Cain has never looked so angry. Maybe the Koch bros have brought out a mean streak in him, but when Cain finally does smile, it’s unsettling, a bit like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. See Colbert out-slow-smile Cain by a mile. 

 

And strange though the Cain ad may be, he made an even stranger spot in August, which Lawrence O’Donnell dug up and aired Tuesday night. Note how the white hero beats the bejesus out of the disrespectful black cowboy, and the movie-within-an-ad motif. Is this meant to represent Cain’s disdain for “brainwashed” black liberals, and his own unserious political campaign within a serious marketing campaign, or something? Darn if I know.

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