When The Pillsbury Company appointed me president of the then-troubled Godfather’s Pizza chain in 1986, they were not looking for a black president because it was time for the first time in its history to have a black man in charge of a major business unit. They were looking for someone who had successfully demonstrated leadership ability.
In the real world, the individuals who usually rise to the top of their chosen professions and achieve their dreams are the most talented and hardest working. In the political world, success is too often determined by political tenure, timing and factors none of us can control, such as our race, ethnicity or sex.
The process for choosing the next president of the United States should focus on electing someone with the experience and leadership ability to identify the most important challenges to our economic infrastructure and national security, and to articulate common sense solutions. The job is too important to choose someone solely because they are black, Hispanic, or female. Yet the media and many of the Democratic Party’s self-appointed kingmakers are focused solely on the Democratic candidates’ checkbox demographics, and not on their ability or the substance of their message. So far, substance is noticeably absent from these and most of the presidential contenders.
In a January 25 Washington Post article on Senator Barack Obama’s (D-IL) support among Democratic African-Americans, Reverend B. Herbert Martin of Chicago stated, “How does he identify himself? Will he continue to be an African-American, or will he become some kind of new creation?”
My guess is that Sen. Obama will continue to be an African-American, just as the sun will continue to rise in the East.
African-American columnist Stanley Crouch wrote in a November 2, 2006 column, “Other than color, Obama did not – does not – share a heritage with the majority of black Americans, who are descendants of plantation slaves.”
Isn’t it funny that it is the liberals who are obsessed with Obama’s race? Many of those who claim to be black leaders in the mold of Martin Luther King, Jr., who stated that we should judge each other by the content of our character and not the color of our skin, cannot get past Obama’s skin color and how the senator plans, if at all, to represent his skin color.
Of course, the origin of Obama’s parents has nothing to do with his cautioned support from liberal black leaders. As Debra Dickerson notes in a January 22 Salon.com article, “He didn’t attain power through traditional black channels (not a minister, no time at the NAACP) so, technically, he owes the civil rights lobby nothing, but they need him in their debt.”
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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