Cain's post-racial promise

A significant part of Mr. Obama’s appeal in 2008 was the color of his skin. Supporters were willing to overlook his lack of executive experience and any number of other significant shortcomings in order to elect the first black president. The 2012 contest will tell us whether the country is done patting itself on the back. Let’s hope so, because the Obama presidency to date is nothing if not a harsh lesson in the perils of identity politics…

Black individuals who don’t see themselves primarily as victims are a threat to the political left, which helps explain why MSNBC commentators have derided Mr. Cain as a token and why Jon Stewart has mocked him in tones that evoke Amos ‘n’ Andy or Stepin Fetchit. To secure political victories, Democrats need blacks to vote for them in unison. Independent thinking cannot be tolerated.

No one is hoping more than the White House that Mr. Cain fades away. If he doesn’t, Mr. Obama’s fear of Mr. Romney winning independent voters next year could turn into a fear of Mr. Cain peeling away black support. Black enthusiasm for the president remains high but has slipped in recent months, and a black alternative to Mr. Obama is not a scenario that Democrats would welcome.