Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Wayans brothers, they of the American funny family, wrote and starred in the 2004 film “White Chicks,” one of the most clichéd, awful movies ever. Ever.

Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans “star” as African-American FBI agents who go undercover disguised as two white girls from the Hamptons set — the 1 Percent Club. The Wayans don wigs and bring in a geek-squad makeup crew to transform them from black men into blonde white women. They then spend most of the rest of the 1:49 film preening and prancing around playing on stereotypes of a certain kind of white woman.

The Wayans go so far to refer to actor Terry Crews’ Latrell Spencer, a womanizing African-American professional basketball player, as “Buffy the White Girl Slayer.” Basically they make the two white girls and their entourage of shopping-mad, man-crazy, book-averse, ignorance-embracing friends into a collection of white female vapidity.

Which raises a the following question: What if white screenwriters (and the Wayans brothers wrote the movie) developed a film called “Black Dudes” that flipped the script and had, say, Rosie O’Donnell, and some other funny girl, posing as black men playing off all sorts of stereotypes. Would that work? Would anyone dare?

Actually, there’s no longer a reason to debate this. In a sense, the script is written.

By Herman Cain.

Remarkably, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, with his pimp hats, his random breaking into song on the  campaign trail, the street-corner hucksterism (9-9-9), and his alleged affinity for white women, willing or not, would appear to add up to everything a certain type of conservative thinks about black people but doesn’t say publicly.

White Chicks, meet your Black Dude.

Yet the GOP base loves Cain.

It’s a modern political riddle that can be interpreted one of three ways:

1. The entire Republican Southern Strategy (Reagan announced his 1980 candidacy for the presidency in Philadelphia, Miss., the city where three civil rights activists were infamously slain in 1964) has been misinterpreted by generations of historians and political observers. Presidents Nixon and Reagan did not attempt to frighten white, working-class voters with racial messaging. Willie Horton may as well have been white.

2. A lot of Republicans hate Obama largely because of his race and feel guilty about it. Supporting Cain gives them a false sense of themselves as more open-minded — and empowers the hate of Obama, justifies it in a twisted sense.

3. Conservative caucus and primary voters actually like seeing a black man in the role of the Crown Prince Fool. And they see Cain’s candidacy as broad-brushing away of historical trauma visited upon minorities in the United States.

After all, in Cain’s way of thinking, everything in life is a matter of individual self-determination. Don’t like your lot? Blame yourself. That rule, of course, applies to all 6,999,999,999 people on the earth who are not Herman Cain. It’s not Cain’s fault, but rather, ummm, the public schools or some other institution, that Cain doesn’t know China is a nuclear power, and has been for about half a century. (A few days ago Cain said China is “trying to develop nuclear capability.” Sarah Palin’s “I can see Russia” foreign policy sounds like the Marshall Plan in comparison.)

But when it comes to Cain the Republicans’ main problem isn’t a black-and-white issue. It’s this: Cain has made himself anathema to Hispanic voters with ugly comments about immigration and potential enforcement.

“When I’m in charge of the fence, we going to have a fence. It’s going to be 20 feet high. It’s going to have barbed wire on the top. It’s going to be electrocuted, electrified,” Cain said. “And there’s going to be a sign on the other side that says it will kill you.”

Recently, David Gregory of NBC’s “Meet the Press” asked Cain to account for the remark.

“That’s not a serious plan, that’s a joke,” Cain said. “I’ve also said America needs to get a sense of humor. That was a joke, OK?”

What if former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (a Latino) had “joked” that the way to deal with prison overcrowding was simply to execute more inmates (disproportionately black) and save on the electric bills and tech support by bringing back the ropes and gallows and just hanging folk?

Cain can’t walk back what he’s said about immigration. Damage done. Trust me, Latinos weren’t laughing. Most Latinos don’t need to play the game of “Six Degrees of Bacon” to remind them of their connections, through family and friends, to undocumented people in this nation.

Yes, Hispanics are angry with President Obama for moving single-mindedly on health -care, allowing the reform push to consume nearly all of the political capital and general goodwill the president accumulated in the 2008 race, leaving Obama nothing left to make a serious move on fulfilling his promise to do something with immigration reform in 2009, his first year on the job.

But the fact remains, two out of every three Latino voters supported President Obama in his election. And since then the census has shown tremendous growth in the nation’s Latino population. In 2010, 42.3 percent of the adult population in New Mexico was Latino. The number stood at 22.3 percent in the likely battleground state of Nevada.

The demographics in North Carolina and Virginia — Obama territory in 2008 but a tougher nut to crack for the Democrats in 2012 — could make the difference for Obama if he energizes Latinos, who represent 7 percent of the adult population in each of those states.

Pollsters and analysts now are focusing on the all-important early-state caucus and primary voters — and the independent suburban white women of the brand lampooned by Team Wayans.

But if Cain emerges, rascal smile intact, from the cloud of accusations and revelations about his tactics for approaching women in the workplace and grabs the GOP nomination, he will serve up the Hispanic vote to President Obama and down-ticket Democrats, delivering the election to his opponents faster then a Godfather’s pizza.

Estas terminado, Mr. Cain.