A Goldblog reader writes, in reference to my Bloomberg View column:

Herman Cain plays one role and one role only, to give white Tea Partyers cover to hate Barack Obama. It's a performance, and the payment will be a show on Fox.

There is a lot of truth in this; in speeches, Cain explicitly absolves Tea Party members of racism for having hostile feelings about Obama (and, of course, I'm not suggesting that all Tea Party members dislike Obama for the color of his skin), but Cain also has a set of ideas that appeal to small-government types, and to small-business types, in particular. That said, much of his popularity stems from his unique role as a black conservative.