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Who's pulling the strings for Herman Cain?
08 November 2011, 8:06 AM | Source: Matt Hall, SBS
Or he will be looking up at the Oval Office walls wishing America (and the world) good luck with its alternative choice as President.
And what a choice there is. The official list of declared candidates includes Michele Bachman, Jon Hunstman, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Texas governor Rick Perry made some noise on his late entry into the race but the most electable contender appears to be Mitt Romney. Appears is the key word here. In a normal world Romney should appeal to a wide cross-section of American voters but this, remember, is American .
The former Massachusetts governor is Mormon, from the north-east, and signed into law a state health care bill that Obama modelled his own reforms on. For many in the Republican Party that all adds up to one big No.
Which is one reason why Herman Cain has emerged as a challenger to Romney’s ascension. Cain, with a CV that includes CEO of a pizza company, had been billed as the underdog outsider who talks “straight”. But that status now seems history after successive polls have kept him on Romney’s shoulder. With increased popularity comes increased scrutiny. The past week has seen revelations about hushed sexual harrasment accusations. Then there’s the question of how much an “outsider” Cain really is and whether he is the front for billionaire right-wing lobbyists.
Enter the Koch brothers (it’s pronounced like Coke). As Associated Press reported, Cain has deep ties to the billionaires through the organisation Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a lobby group that includes on its agenda (surprise!) less taxation and less government intervention and spending. It’s a group that pushes for hyper-capitalism and has deep, deep, pockets and a lot of connections among America’s corporate elite. Cain has previously been the public face of AFP campaigns and many of his staff have been or are AFP employees.
Charles and David Koch spent $857,000 in lobbying in 2004. Four years later, with the rise of Obama, that had risen to $20 million. Two years later - another $20 million. With interests in energy and finance, the Koch lobbyists influenced around 100 pieces of legislation. According to The Guardian, “They included trying to loosen regulations on potentially poisonous substances like dioxins, benzene and asbestos. They have pushed back against restrictions on carbon emissions and funded thinktanks and groups that promote efforts to discredit climate change science. They tried to soften attempts at financial reform where the Kochs operate in the derivatives market.”
A detailed investigation by the Center for Public Integrity earlier this year revealed, among other things, that at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing Koch Industries reps argued that moderate levels of the toxic chemical dioxin should not be designated as a cancer risk for humans.
Of course, it could be argued, it’s in their interests to do so even at the expense of others. But the Koch role, and their well-funded puppet candidate in Herman Cain, show a very dark side to American politics and another front that Obama must battle over the next 12 months.