Herman Cain: Failed Panderer

Politics & Current Events

Noted constitutional scholar and Republican primary candidate Herman Cain is doin' what they do in Republican primaries — moving to the right. Specifically, he's giving shoutouts to the folks who are concerned that Muslims are going to impose Sharia Law on us and burquatize our supermodels and cut the hands off our investment bankers and stuff. Asked about a protest over a mosque in Tennessee, he cheerfully went full crazy, articulating a theory under which the mere existence of another faith in the community is a violation of the freedom of religion of adherents of other faiths:

In an exchange on “Fox News Sunday,” the Republican presidential contender said that he sided with some in a town near Nashville who were trying to prevent Muslims from worshiping in their community.

“Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state,” he said. “Islam combines church and state. They’re using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community, and the people of that community do not like it. They disagree with it.”

Asked by host Chris Wallace if any community could ban a mosque if it wanted to, Cain said: “They have a right to do that.”

If this sounds familiar, it ought to be: it's basically a variation on the speech is tyranny! theme we encounter occasionally — the notion that other people exercising their First Amendment rights thereby infringe upon the rights of those who disagree with them.

Cain is pandering. That's barely news — it's what primary contestants do. He's pandering to a particularly silly wing of his party: the view that Sharia Law threatens to take over our legal processes is extremely unserious nonsense. But here's the funny part: he can't even pander competently. In the course of pandering to the OMG SHARIA LAW wing of his party, he explicitly articulates a concept that is anathema to it: the idea that the constitution provides for the separation of church and state (not to mention the idea that it's wrong for a group to use a church to "infuse" their morals in a community).

Not that anyone from the Sharia-panicking wing will call him on it.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Randall  •  Jul 18, 2011 @10:43 am

    I never cease to be amazed at primary candidates, and this is a particularly wonderful example of the breed. At least we can rest easy that there is no way this yahoo will ever get elected.

  2. Dan Weber  •  Jul 18, 2011 @11:19 am

    I want to shake anyone who thinks this is a good idea and shout at them

    YOU WON'T CONTROL GOVERNMENT FOREVER. EVENTUALLY YOUR WORST ENEMY WILL CONTROL THE GOVERNMENT. DO YOU WANT THIS AS PRECEDENT?

    and keep on shaking them.

  3. Mike  •  Jul 18, 2011 @3:47 pm

    "he can’t even pander competently"

    If you're going to start examining primary candidates' statements for internal consistency, we're all doomed.

    They can't even stay consistent on the exact same topic (changing the message depending on what audience they're speaking to), much less stay consistent to the same principles (separation of church and state) when applied to different facts.

  4. chris  •  Jul 18, 2011 @3:56 pm

    You know that "pandering" is a synonym for "pimping." You call a black man a pimp?

    You racist.

    ;)

  5. Mandy  •  Jul 19, 2011 @7:13 am

    Funny how the people who preach most fervently about the Free Expression Clause tend to overlook the 1st Amendment's other little freedom of religion clause…

  6. John Burgess  •  Jul 19, 2011 @11:22 am

    Hey, it's politics, so it must mean that it's a free-for-all and the asylum gates are down!

    Even John Turley appears to be a secret Al-Qaeda plant, sneaking into people's bedrooms in order to impose Shariah law! Just ask Debbie. [Via Simple Justice]

  7. John Farrier  •  Jul 20, 2011 @8:36 am

    +1 to Dan Weber.

    Unfortunately, the people that you're shaking just don't think that far ahead.