The New Mouth of the South

So Herman Cain, one-time Republican presidential front-runner, has been given his reward: he will replace long-time Atlanta-based right-wing talk radio warhorse Neal Boortz, sometimes called the Mouth of the South, as the host of a widely syndicated show. The transition will officially occur on Inauguration Day, 2013, when Cain will either be celebrating the victory of his on-again off-again buddy Mitt Romney or continuing his practiced rant against the socialist, racist Barack Obama.

You’d probably have to be from the Atlanta area to understand the long reign of snarky error Boortz has conducted for 42 years on the local, regional and national air waves. He was doing political talk when Rush Limbaugh was still a music DJ and sportscaster, the very prototype of someone who read Ayn Rand as a teenager and never recovered. For decades, I tried to convince my father that listening to Boortz–who invariably enraged him–was bad for his health. And I have to wonder if a tiny segment of the health problems that have landed my stepfather in the Piedmont Hospital intensive care unit was attributable to his own addiction to Boortz, with whom he never, ever agreed, but could never ignore.

In any event, Cain was a frequent guest host for Boortz during the hiaitus between his failed 2004 Senate race in Georgia and his failed presidential campaign, so the announcement is no big surprise. Becoming a radio talk show host requires none of the vetting that would likely bar his ascension to an administration job if Romney were to win. And it’s the perfect perch for him to peddle his cranky tax ideas, hustle books, and boost his “personal appearance” fees. Maybe he’ll get a Fox gig as well, but I suspect this is the ideal job for the Pizza Man, who, like Boortz, is often wrong but never in doubt.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.