Where's that darned Herman Cain now that Republicans really need him?
So Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made his speech before the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's annual convention in Houston last week. Had he declined the invitation of "the nation's largest and oldest civil rights organization," he'd have been criticized for it.
Instead, he accepted, and was treated to boos and catcalls for telling NAACP delegates his honest opinions about President Obama and Obamacare.
If I had my druthers, I'd much prefer Romney to Cain as the Republican nominee to run against Obama in November. But for a fleeting second, I wondered what would have happened if Cain were the Republican nominee, and had been invited to speak before the NAACP annual convention.
I suspect Cain, with his brash, in-your-face style, might have told the delegates EXACTLY what he thought of the NAACP. Cain and I are both black, both Republican, both conservative and have last names that are pronounced the same.
And if his views about the NAACP are anywhere near similar to mine, here's what he might have told those NAACP delegates:
"I fully intended to decline the invitation to speak to this convention today. I reconsidered because I think there are some things you need to hear.
"If a white Republican presidential candidate said what I'm about to say, you'd immediately accuse him or her of racism. I hope you take what I'm going to tell you as constructive criticism from a black man genuinely concerned about the direction your organization is taking and has taken in the immediate past.
"I take issue with how the media characterize your organization: the nation's largest and oldest civil rights organization. Well, the NAACP may be large, and it may be old, but it's no longer a civil rights organization.
"Under the stewardship of your now mercifully retired board Chairman Julian Bond, your organization shifted from the truly nonpartisan civil rights group it was to what it is now: a piddling subcommittee of the Democratic National Committee.
"Bond used his board chairmanship position to, for years, attack anything and everything Republican. He compared Cabinet appointees of former President George W. Bush to the Taliban. He once said Bush wanted to repeal the 14th Amendment.
"When the Internal Revenue Service called your organization on Bond's stepping quite a few light-years over the nonpartisanship line, he went into full-blown victim mode, claiming he and his organization were being picked on."
Those words surely would have drawn far more than catcalls and boos from the delegates. Cain might not have gotten out of the convention hall in one piece. He might well have ended up in the Witness Protection Program.
But his comments would have been spot-on. The only reason the "nonpartisan" NAACP invites Republican presidential candidates or Republican presidents to address the organization's national convention these days is so that they can be subjected to boos and catcalls.
And when said Republican is done speaking, NAACP honchos can then moan about what a bunch of racists Republicans are.
As if to prove my point, there was Bond, now board chairman emeritus, giving his take on Romney's speech last week.
Yes, the man who brought the NAACP low and reduced a great civil rights organization to a pathetic, latter-day version of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee is still speaking for the NAACP, and still engaging in his own brand of race-baiting and Republican-baiting.
"He wasn't speaking to us," Bond said, according to a Chicago Tribune news story. "He was speaking to that slice of white America that hasn't made up its mind about him, and he's saying, 'Look at me, I'm OK. I can get along with Negroes. I can say things to them that they don't like, so I'm not afraid to stand up to them.' I think that's what this is all about, and that's the reason he came."
Maybe the next Republican president or presidential candidate will wise up and pass on that invitation to speak at an NAACP annual convention.
Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.