Herman Cain and the Deep Political Meaning of Pizza

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The more meat you order on your pizza, the more manly you are, Herman Cain says. When Cain denied all allegations of sexual harassment and then broke into song at the National Press Club two weeks ago, it seemed like we were watching the BBC. Only in a British satire of an American election would a candidate try to distract reporters from a sex scandal by literally singing about Jesus -- and be met with hearty applause. Cain made it more clear this is all some kind of performance art in an interview with GQ posted Monday; in it, Cain says explicitly some of the weirdest Freudian stuff only implied in the 2004 election, like that when John Kerry ordered the wrong cheese on a sandwich it meant he was too sissy to lead the country in wartime. 

GQ: What can you tell about a man by the type of pizza that he likes?
Herman Cain: [repeats the question aloud, then pauses for a long moment] The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe the more manly he is.
GQ: Why is that?
Herman Cain: Because the more manly man is not afraid of abundance. [laughs]
GQ: Is that purely a meat question?
Herman Cain: A manly man don't want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza.
Further evidence this is all a joke? Cain has no interest in dispelling the notion that he has a less-than-modern view of women. At one of the Republican debates last week, he referred to the former speaker of the House as "Princess Nancy," and then said he only apologized for the remark so he could get people to stop asking him questions about it. In his interview with the magazine, he says his rival for the Republican nomination Michele Bachmann is a loopy airhead -- "tutti fruiti," to be exact.
GQ: Let me ask you about your rivals. Recently, in response to a question about you being the new "flavor of the month," you said you weren't a flavor of the month, you were Häagen-Dazs black walnut, which "tastes good all the time." If Mitt Romney was an ice cream flavor, what flavor would he be?
Herman Cain: Oh, just plain vanilla. [laughs] Are you guys really going to print this? I have learned that with my new status in the polls, any- and every thing that I say will show up somewhere. Do you guys really want to do this ice cream analogy?
GQ: We do. Rick Perry?
Herman Cain: Rick Perry: rocky road.
GQ: Michele Bachmann?
Herman Cain: Michele Bachmann... I'm not going to say it. I'm not going to say it.
GQ: Oh, come on!
Herman Cain: Tutti-frutti. I know I'm going to get in trouble!
GQ: Ron Paul?
Herman Cain: I just don't have a good description for Ron Paul, because he's just not an ice cream flavor.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.