On Friday, delivering the keynote speech at the Defending the American Dream conference hosted by billionaire David Koch's right-wing Americans for Prosperity Foundation, embattled GOP frontrunner Herman Cain, employing his best preacherly cadences, said:
"I'm proud to know the Koch brothers. I'm very proud to know the Koch brothers. They make it sound like that we have had time to go fishing together, hunting together, skiiing together, golfing together. Just so I can clarify this to the media. This may be a new announcement for the media: I am the Koch brothers' brother from another mother. Yes. I am their brother from another mother, and proud of it."
The "Koch-Cain connection" is old news, with Cain having given AFP speeches for years. But flaunting his ties to the billionaire industrialists may not be the savviest move for someone seeking the White House. A recent Bloomberg story gave an in-depth accounting of the dozens of crimes committed globally by Koch Industries over the past three decades. These include winning contracts through bribery, price-fixing, trading with Iran in violation of the U.S. embargo, and, most egregiously, ignoring environmental regulations. The flouting of the environmental regulations has led to numerous cancer deaths in Corsett, Arkansas, for example, as a result of pollution from Koch Industries' Georgia-Pacific plant in that community.
The snafus continue to pile up for Cain, which is why N.Y. Times columnist David Brooks has called Cain's candidacy just "a good T.V. show," and others see it as one long audition for a Fox show. The sexual-harassment allegations are the latest spot of bother for Cain (who told inquiring reporters "Don't even go there" in regards to the subject after last night's one-on-one debate with Newt Gingrich). Before that was the ill-advised smoking commercial, his worry in an interview that China might develop nuclear weapons (even though their first nuclear detonation occurred in 1964), his failure to convincingly defend his 9-9-9 tax plan, and, according to Michele Bachmann, the fact that "There's been ten instances in the last month where he's changed his positions on significant issues."
And yet, Cain continues to thrive, as if his lack of tact added to his charm. His association with the Koch Brothers blatantly contradicts his stance as a Washington outsider railing against politics-as-usual, yet people seem willing to overlook his foibles in the early stages, captivated by the jokey ebullience. Mitt Romney will eventually benefit from Cain's slow implosion, but it's too bad the GOP can't somehow implant Cain's charisma into Romney's more electable body.