Wags who predicted that Herman Cain was really running for a talk show sinecure during his farcical presidential have just been vindicated. The popular conservative talk radio host Neal Boortz announced on Monday that he is retiring and that Herman Cain, the former restaurant executive who briefly led the Republican presidential field, will replace him. According to the press release on Boortz’s website, “[Boortz’s] last day hosting The Neal Boortz Show, which premiered on News/Talk WSB in 1993 and now airs on more than 200 radio stations with six million weekly listeners, will be January 21, 2013.” That, of course, is Inauguration Day. “If it’s Barack Obama, then I’m going to disappear into the mountains and come out after he has destroyed this country. If it’s Mitt Romney, we’ll start drinking as the show begins,” Boortz said on his Monday program.
Cain offered fulsome praise for Boortz, saying in a statement, “Neal has spent his career as a bold, vocal advocate of what is right in this world and condemning that which is not. I promise the torch Boortz is handing off to me will blaze as bright, as bold, and as loud as ever. Also, I am ecstatic that Neal has kept the radio host’s chair warm for me all these years. He may be ‘The TalkMaster,’ but Neal’s listeners know I’m the ‘The Dean of the University of Common Sense.’ ”
It is ironic that Boortz has chosen an African-American successor, given that he has a long history of overt professional racism. Before he got into broadcasting, Boortz worked as a speechwriter for Georgia Governor Lester Maddox, an ardent segregationist. Maddox first gained political prominence by chasing African-American would-be patrons out of his restaurant with a handgun. In 1976 Maddox challenged his nemesis Jimmy Carter for the presidency by running on George Wallace’s former American Independence Party line. Time called Maddox a “strident racist.”
On his Atlanta-based radio show, Boortz has frequently indulged in vulgar race baiting. In a 2009 disquisition that would have made Maddox proud, Boortz called for removing the voting rights of certain recipients of government aid. “Everybody still living in a hotel or a trailer after Hurricane Katrina: no votes,” he declared. “Can’t vote again ever, ever. Nobody living in Section 8 housing should be allowed to vote.” Boortz seems to harbor a particularly strong antipathy for Katrina victims. As Media Matters reports, in 2008, “Boortz made disparaging remarks about Hurricane Katrina victims, stating, ‘When these Katrina so-called refugees were scattered about the country, it was just a glorified episode of putting out the garbage.’ Boortz also described New Orleans as ‘a city of parasites, a city of people who could not and had no desire to fend for themselves.’” In 2006, Media Matters noted a sexist and racist attack Boortz made against Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA). “Boortz said that McKinney’s ‘new hair-do’ makes her look ‘like a ghetto slut,’ like ‘an explosion at a Brillo pad factory,’ like ‘Tina Turner peeing on an electric fence,’ and like ‘a shih tzu.’”