I recently spent some time with the surging Tea Party-friendly Republican candidate Herman Cain, and we talked quite a bit about race, and about what he saw as President Obama's deep strangeness. In the passage below, he is telling me why he doesn't identify himself by the term "African-American." From my Bloomberg View column this week:
"Most of the ancestors that I can trace were born here in the United States of America," he said, hitting those last four words with a hammer. "And then it goes back to slavery. And I'm sure my ancestors go all the way back to Africa, but I feel more of an affinity for America than I do for Africa. I'm a black man in America."
This statement came shortly before our discussion turned to another politician generally understood to be an African- American.
"Barack Obama is more of an international," Cain said. "I think he's out of the mainstream and always has been. Look, he was raised in Kenya, his mother was white from Kansas and her family had an influence on him, it's true, but his dad was Kenyan, and when he was going to school he got a lot of fellowships, scholarships, he stayed in the academic environment for a long time. He spent most of his career as an intellectual."