Good news for the Cain campaign, along the lines of the old joke about the millionaire heading into a big meeting when his wife calls to say she has good news and bad news.
“Honey,” he says breathlessly. “I have no time to talk before the meeting. Please just give me the good news real fast now and we can discuss the bad news afterwards.”
“Okay, dear,” she replies. “The good news is that the air bags on your new Ferrari work really well.”
The good news for the Cain campaign is the candidate says he is ready to move full speed ahead as soon as he gets done speaking to his wife this weekend. As of right now, he claims no one has harassed the opposite sex in his family, but one doubts that will still be the case by next Monday. His wife, Gloria, may overlook his thirteen-year affair, but the fact that he went to the Tyson-Holyfield fight in Las Vegas without her is unforgivable.
One need not be a great political handicapper to predict that the Cain bid is no longer able. Having to go home to sing “Gloria” is not a thrilling prospect.
Gloria, don’t you think you’re falling?
If everybody wants you
Why isn’t anybody calling?
You don’t have to answer
Leave ’em hanging on the line
Gloria, I think they got your number
I think they got the alias
That you’ve been living under
But you really don’t remember
Was it something that they said?
Or the voices in your head?
The Cain saga is a sad one in many ways. A capable and successful man, he consistently confounded the low expectations of others. When he began at Godfather’s Pizza, they assigned him the bad neighborhoods of Philadelphia as his region of responsibility. It was a dead area for them and consigning him to that quicksand showed how little regarded he was; he was an affirmative-action token diversity hire and he could have treaded water in that sinecure for years.
Instead he turned the region around and got promoted to main office, which was slipping itself. He turned the whole company around and eventually became a partner in a syndicate which ran it profitably. The recognition he gained there catapulted him to the head of the National Restaurant Association and eventually he became a member of the Federal Reserve.
All of that history made him an appealing alternative to the political class, and when Republican primary voters soured on Perry (too unfocused) and Bachmann (too focused) and Paul (too radical) and Santorum (too holy) and Huntsman (no personality) and Gingrich (too much personality), it suddenly came down to Romney and Cain. Perhaps Cain was on the everyman’s wavelength, folks thought as they listened to his broadcasts, but when they lacked high fidelity, people tuned out.
The question which leaves some pundits scratching their heads is why Newt should be picking up Herman’s steam. After all, Newt has been known to adulterate his own views from time to time. If Cain has to be Mister Clean, why does Gingrich suddenly have stigmata instead of stigma?
The answer, I believe, is that voters will spot a candidate one of two flaws but not both. He can be inexperienced in the area of politics if he can show us irreproachable results on all the other battlefields of life. Or he can be a bit of a creep if he is strong on his policy positions and capable of building support. We will not give anyone a twofer: no inexperienced cads need apply. We could have numbed ourselves to the nouveau Cain but not to the man who plants his sins at the Holyfield.
In general, Mister Cain is a fine man, with talent and ability and sincerity. He spoke beautifully to The American Spectator dinner in November and we were fortunate to have had him in the mix. The true person is much larger than the sum of his weakest episodes, but the scrutiny of our politics is relentless. His candidacy may still provide a model for a future outsider, if they have his upsides without his downsides.
And as for what Gloria will say this weekend, I think we can safely predict that Herman will seek transit on Monday.
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