Lincoln's "Living Dog" - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Lincoln’s “Living Dog”

“A living dog is better than a dead lion.” — Abraham Lincoln on the choice between himself and Stephen A. Douglas

Well, well, well.

Or as Private Gomer Pyle used to exclaim: “Surrrrrrr-prize, surrrrrr-prize, surrrrrr-prize!”

You know why all this flapdoodle over Herman Cain and charges of sexual harassment, charges that Mr. Cain has flatly denied? (Here in this Fox News exclusive Herman Cain is what Abraham Lincoln called a “living dog.”)

A living dog? Yes, and we’ll come back to this in a moment because it bears directly on what’s happening here. As Herman Cain the “living dog” comes under the inevitable attack from the left, if conservatives understand where they are, where they appear to be heading, where they’ve been, it becomes easier (although perhaps not easy) to understand what to do next — and how and with whom to do it.

There are two parts to this disgraceful attack. Both must be examined to understand exactly what is going on with this story.

Part One? History. And this history has two parts within. 

So let’s begin — and let’s be blunt.

Let’s recall in some detail how this racial game — and it is a racial game — is played.

Liberals and the Democratic Party have a two centuries long vivid and extremely graphic history of racism. (Detailed previously here ). From the almost thirty — thirty! — party platforms that either supported slavery or segregation or chose to be silent on the subject, to an alliance with the Ku Klux Klan, electing Klan members to all manner of political offices federal, state and local, not to mention supporting everything from lynching to the racial quotas of today, racism has been the life blood of the left.

Part and parcel of all this has been the fine art of portraying black men as sexual predators. And dealing with these black men so accused in a terrifyingly horrific fashion: they would be lynched.

One could fill cyberspace with these stories, but perhaps one of the more famous is the story of Emmett Till. PBS once did a documentary on the Emmett Till case and as the crescendo rises from the liberal media lynch mob about Mr. Cain it is worth a look at what PBS notes on its website about this particular issue.

Said PBS, no outpost of conservatism:

Some whites espoused the idea that black men were sexual predators and wanted integration in order to be with white women…. Lynchings were frequently committed with the most flagrant public display. Like executions by guillotine in medieval times, lynchings were often advertised in newspapers and drew large crowds of white families. They were a kind of vigilantism where Southern white men saw themselves as protectors of their way of life and their white women. By the early twentieth century, the writer Mark Twain had a name for it: the United States of Lyncherdom…. Lynchings were covered in local newspapers with headlines spelling out the horrific details. Photos of victims, with exultant white observers posed next to them, were taken for distribution in newspapers or on postcards. Body parts, including genitalia, were sometimes distributed to spectators or put on public display. Most infractions were for petty crimes, like theft, but the biggest one of all was looking at or associating with white women. Many victims were black businessmen or black men who refused to back down from a fight. Headlines such as the following were not uncommon:

“Five White Men Take Negro Into Woods; Kill Him: Had Been Charged with Associating with White Women” went over The Associated Press wires about a lynching in Shreveport, Louisiana.” 

Did you catch those two particular sentences above? These two:

Most infractions were for petty crimes, like theft, but the biggest one of all was looking at or associating with white women. Many victims were black businessmen or black men who refused to back down from a fight.

To restate. Black businessmen who refused to back down from a fight were lynched because they had been “looking at or associating with white women.”

And who is Herman Cain? That’s right. A prominent black businessman. A black man who is refusing to back down from a fight. A black man who, quite obviously from his business career in a largely white country, necessarily is “looking at or associating with white women.”

Now, bearing this history in mind, let’s recall the second part of this history — the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky episode.

Several years after the term “high-tech” lynching exploded on the scene at the confirmation hearings of now-Justice Clarence Thomas — Thomas, recall, is a conservative black man married to a white woman — the American left had a mysterious change of heart. After furiously insisting that “women tell the truth” in matters of sexual harassment, and that the real story was that men didn’t “get it” — Bill Clinton came along and liberals did… shocking, I know… a 180.

As the damn broke on Clinton’s sexual behavior — including allegations of rape (from Juanita Broaddrick, a one-time supporter), groping in the Oval Office (Kathleen Willey, another supporter and White House volunteer), dropping his pants as governor and asking state employee Paula Jones to “kiss it” — liberals suddenly had a whole different world view.

Did I mention that Bill Clinton is a white man and a liberal?

Sorry. Bill Clinton is a white man and a liberal.

So what exactly were the responses back then in the day? When the man in question was not a black conservative but a white liberal?

Clinton’s critics, fumed liberals, were uptight, religious fanatics. A massive liberal campaign was launched — directly from the Clinton White House — to discredit every single woman or conservative who took issue with Clinton’s womanizing. Clinton’s critics, scorned James Carville, were determined “to wash all the sodomites and fornicators out of town.”

Also from Carville the memorable gem “Drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.” A reference, of course, to Paula Jones, who was quickly deemed to be an unsophisticated redneck rube.

Of a sudden, not all women told the truth.

Kathleen Willey was trashed. Juanita Broaddrick filed a lawsuit — and was promptly audited by the Clinton-controlled IRS. Paula Jones was humiliated, mocked and smeared from one end of the country to the other for everything from her accent to her economic and educational status. Liberals were ruthless. Absolutely totally ruthless. And among other things, ironically established a consensus that sexual harassment is no big deal.

Let’s move on from history to politics.

To begin, what was Lincoln talking about? Why does Herman Cain fit precisely Lincoln’s “living dog” description? What do we need to understand here?

Lincoln borrowed his point from the Bible (Ecclesiastes 9:4: “For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.”) in his fabled House Divided speech, using it to contrast himself with Stephen A. Douglas. Said candidate Lincoln: “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” 

By which Lincoln meant that a man who cares nothing for the task at hand is what he termed a “caged and toothless” lion when it comes to doing the job that needs to be done. Lincoln was referring to Douglas’s unwillingness to end slavery. In today’s world Cain is effectively using the same sentiment to illustrate his differences with rival Mitt Romney and others — President Obama included — on everything from how to approach changing the tax code (Cain’s 9/9/9 plan) to putting the brakes on the growth of government and, most tellingly, refusing to buy into the dime store New Deal mentality that has become a hallmark of Establishment moderate Republicans.

As the polls show, Mr. Cain is gaining fans because of his performance in the GOP debates. He is being perceived as a potential “living dog” in the White House — all teeth and energy in tearing relentlessly into the problem. How, the question arises, can a President Romney possibly oppose the growth of government when he went out of his way as governor to increase it? Demonstrating he not only didn’t oppose the idea of big government but that he now seems bent on convincing the public they shouldn’t care that he doesn’t care.

And how can the GOP Establishment in Washington be committed to the task when so many feed off of that very same government? Are not Romney and the larger GOP Establishment the very embodiment of Lincoln’s “caged and toothless lion”? Is not Herman Cain — his color quite aside — a more serious political threat to both the GOP Establishment and the Liberal Establishment as opposed to just another political competitor?

We are in the midst of a tremendous popularity surge for Mr. Cain. Poll after poll is emerging both nationally and now in Iowa showing him at the front of the GOP pack. Like clockwork, and precision clockwork at that, now comes forth the allegation, an “exclusive” in the liberal media outlet Politico, of “inappropriate behavior” that was “sexually suggestive.” Years ago.

Let’s again be blunt. Mr. Cain is black. Were his female accusers white? Politico doesn’t say. Certainly the Politico lists two white male reporters in the byline of the Cain story. One, Kenneth Vogel, is an ex-staffer for the far left George Soros funded Center for Public Integrity, as noted here.

And the tie between the left and lynching, as PBS notes, “black businessmen” who were “looking or associating with white women” and “who refused to back down from a fight” is historically airtight.

But whatever the color of Mr. Cain’s accusers both the pattern of this attack as well as the reason for it is crystal clear.

You might call it The Meaning of the President 2012.

The presidential election of 2012 will mark the 48th year since the defeat at the 1964 Republican Convention of the then-dominant Republican moderates by conservatives. The avowed complaint then from infuriated moderates was that conservatism could not win elections, much less govern the country.

In practice, the loss of elections has since occurred when moderates (Ford, Bush 41, Dole, McCain) headed the ticket. Close election victories rather than landslides have resulted when the nominee campaigned as a moderate (the “compassionate conservatism” of George W. Bush). And under the command of both Bushes, from the raising of taxes (in violation of 41’s “read my lips” pledge) to Bush 43’s embrace of such as a Medicare prescription drug program and education’s No Child Left Behind — the size and cost of government has increased.

It seems altogether obvious that the size and cost of government — now with the country dangling precipitously over the canyon of a $15 trillion debt — will not decrease with a Republican president until a flash point, a crisis, is reached within the Republican Party itself. Reached, resolved and passed.

To borrow from Abraham Lincoln: A party divided against itself cannot stand. A conservative party that is led by a moderate will eventually split asunder.

The GOP won’t dissolve or disappear. But just as Lincoln predicted of America in the middle of the slavery controversy, the GOP will become all one thing or all the other. Either conservatives will continue the party’s evolution back into the party of American conservatism it was at its founding, or moderates will make moderation — the idea of the dime store New Deal — palatable everywhere into the farthest reaches of the GOP.

Lest there be anyone who thinks the chances of the latter are unthinkable, it would be important to think of party history exactly in terms of these last 48 years since 1964. If one thinks of the federal government as, say, a governmental version of the popular movie franchise Transformers (described by Wikipedia as the story of: “alien robots who can disguise themselves by transforming into everyday machinery”) a clearer picture of what has been happening to the GOP for those 48 years can be seen.

Some of the more visible “everyday machinery” that has been transforming the robotic federal government into even larger size with a costlier price tag has been welded on courtesy of the moderation impulse of various Republican presidents.

Contemplate that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now run amok in the Obama era was a creation of Richard Nixon. Or that Bush 43 dismissed the Reagan idea of getting rid of the growing bureaucracy that is the Department of Education as not “realistic’ of leadership and instead decided in favor of launching an expansion of the federal government’s role in education by launching No Child Left Behind — with no less than the late “Liberal Lion” Senator Ted Kennedy as his partner. Not to mention the Bush signing of McCain-Feingold and Sarbanes-Oxley.

And so on… and on.

The first GOP platform after 1964 — 1968 — found the Republican Party that nominated Richard Nixon that year including a plank titled “The Individual and Government” which stated:

In recent years an increasingly impersonal national government has tended to submerge the individual. An entrenched, burgeoning bureaucracy has increasingly usurped powers, unauthorized by Congress. Decentralization of power, as well as strict Congressional oversight of administrative and regulatory agency compliance with the letter and spirit of the law, are urgently needed to preserve personal liberty, improve efficiency, and provide a swifter response to human problems.

But by July of 1970, a bare two years and four months later, the Nixon Administration created the EPA — by executive order. There was not a single enabling piece of legislation from Congress involved. The Nixon executive order opened the door to a massive national intrusion of what the platform specifically said the GOP opposed — “an increasingly impersonal national government (that) has tended to submerge the individual.” Beginning operations in December of 1970, EPA is now a federal behemoth employing almost 18,000 full-time employees, daily injecting into everyday American life proposed rules and regulations on everything from global warming to commercial boilers to private property.

In one recent case cited by the Heritage Foundation, the problems with moderate Republican presidencies is vividly illustrated.

Alaska small businessman Krister Evertson, who had never had a run-in with the law in his life, was run off the road and jailed by a SWAT team armed with automatic weapons. Why? Because he had not used a properly approved EPA label he had never heard of for a small shipment of sodium. Evertson wound up doing two years in prison.

When did this happen?

That’s right. In 2004 — when the EPA was under the administration of one George W. Bush.

Thus the “dime store New Deal” of moderate Republicans — in this case from Nixon to Bush — at work in practice. (Here is Mr. Evertson’s congressional testimony from 2009.)

This is now a considerably polished approach by GOP moderates. So run-of-the-mill routine that in his memoirs President George W. Bush apparently never thought his signing of the Sarbanes-Oxley “Corporate Responsibility” legislation was worth mentioning. The compliance costs for American business from this gem of Republican regulatory moderation were predicted to be $1.2 billion. In fact, they now hover in the stratosphere of $35 billion. And this from a president who ran on a platform with a plank promising — no kidding — “Common Sense in Regulation.”

These few examples (and many more not mentioned here) show precisely where conservatives and the Republican Party are now — and where they will continue to head unless serious change is at hand.

In effect the philosophical strategy or lack thereof that has guided the Nixon, Ford, and two Bush presidencies over the last 48 years since that return to basics that was the 1964 Convention has exactly built almost to specification a Republican Party which has a conservative political foundation supporting moderate if not liberal governments. Governments which in turn wind up creating regulatory nightmares like the EPA or Sarbanes-Oxley and the rest.

Which means conservatives watching the 2012 jockeying for the Republican presidential nomination face a considerable task to prevent the continuation of this trend. Plainly, Romney promises in so many words that a Romney presidency would re-channel the thinking of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and the father and son Bushes. He honestly pretends to nothing else.

Leaving conservatives across the country knowing what must be done. Yet struggling to understand how — and importantly with whom — to do it.

What they are actually doing is examining the field for Lincoln’s “live dogs.” Those who care strongly enough about the changes they are promising and plan to look back in their farewell address to the nation as they leave office with the satisfaction they sank serious teeth into the task — with results to show for it.

Or, as Reagan himself put it in his farewell address to the nation in January of 1989: “My friends: We did it. We weren’t just marking time. We made a difference.”

Added into this mix, working hand in glove with the dime-store New Dealers, is the drive by this or that Republican consultant and lobbyist to convince conservatives they can’t win independent votes and simply shouldn’t care that the next Republican president would turn out like four of the last five.

That means something must be done to stop the popularity of Herman Cain.

Which in turn leaves a wide field of “suspects” for those who would seek to torpedo the Cain campaign. No one yet knows the source here, but in this day and age of the Internet it is difficult to believe they will escape unrevealed.

Was the source a GOP consultant/lobbyist with ties to a Cain rival?

Or was it a left-winger acting on the centuries’ old and well proven animus of the left for the uppity black man — a hatred that once summoned the noose of the lynchers? And now, if you are a conservative black man like Herman Cain or Clarence Thomas before him as opposed to a white liberal man like Bill Clinton — makes you the target for exactly that same animus. Except this time it’s a high tech lynching, fed to a couple of lefty white male reporters at Politico.

Either way, one thing is clear.

Abraham Lincoln would recognize Herman Cain instantly.


Because Herman Cain is exactly Abraham Lincoln’s “living dog” incarnate. Which makes him one very big, double-barreled threat. To both the GOP Establishment, because of his outsider views. And the left wing, because he’s a black man with conservative views.

What is this sexual harassment story really all about?

Somebody wants that damnable living dog Herman Cain rounded up.

And Politico is supplying the political rope.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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