Monday Political Roundup: The Rain on the Plains Fell Mainly on Herman Cain

December 5, 2011, 9:32 am

It's just a gas to be Democrat nowadays

Now once again, where did it rain?
On Herman Cain! On Herman Cain!
And where is Herman Cain?
Down in flames! Down in flames!

One down, seven to go.  At this rate, were I not beginning a coveted new job in January, I might be tempted to declare myself a candidate for the Republican nomination.  From reading Adam Hochschild’s op-ed in the New York Times today, I think it is a viable idea. Like Newt, as Hochschild points out, I seldom miss a chance to note that I am a historian (see?  I just did it again.)   Unlike Newt, I am actually a historian, so if that is what you are looking for in a President — as opposed to a successful, handsome African American entrepreneur with a very active sex life — I might be a good pick.  For incisive commentary on the state of the GOP, see Tom Tomorrow’s Wayback Machine on How the Gingrich Stole Christmas in 1994. Actually, Tom is married to a historian who would also make a fantastic president. Or my Vice President.

Back to poor Herman Cain.  Doesn’t it make you want to sing a few verses of Paul Simon’s “Love Me Like a Rock?” The more scrambled his campaign got, the more I came to like him, despite the obvious shortcomings that no Republican seemed to care about, perhaps because the GOP leadership already knew how they would take him out.  I came to resent the notion that being grabby in the car and having short and long-term affairs made him unusually despicable among politicians, or for that matter, among successful businessmen.  Once alleged long-term squeeze Ginger White (how can you not love that name?!?) came forward, I actually started to like Cain more than I had before. Thirteen years, after all, is a very long time:  clearly the man had a lot of love to spread around. (Click this link for an oddly moving interview of White by Leslie Bennetts of The Daily Beast, December 5 2011.)

The failure of the Cain candidacy, which could have been predicted without the avalanche of sexual allegations, raises an important question about the Republican Party, however. How is it that a party that panders so completely to business, insists that government ought to run like a business, and derides any model for financing the state that does not reproduce Mom and Pop’s checkbook balancing activities, can only get behind career politicians as its presidential candidates?  And this in a party that has a long history of successfully electing Presidents who have strong business backgrounds (Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Bushes I & II), as well as someone who had never even registered to vote prior to being elected President (Dwight D. Eisenhower.)

Herman Cain clearly had a problematic personal life that, like many men who play hide the sausage most of their lives, he kept perfectly compartmentalized (one imagines that Mrs. Cain did as well.)  And yet, it isn’t as if this has not been managed before, even in the age of the Interwebz. Bill Clinton’s personal life was a complete train wreck, and it is hard to imagine that such episodes didn’t occur during the prolonged period when George W. Bush was absorbing any and all intoxicating substances he could get his mitts on.

Did someone say Mitt?  I’m glad you asked that question.  In a party that also cares so much about morality, the two Republican candidates who are probably best qualified to actually be President can’t really gin up any establishment enthusiasm. If we are looking at intellect and experience, “Mitten” Romney and Jon Huntsman, two straight shootin’ Mormons, are my picks with Huntsman at the top of the leader board.

Oh sure, Mormons go off the rails like anyone else, but in the whole crowd, I would say that these two men are also least likely to surprise us with a Bimbo in a Box.  And they could each actually function as the chief executive of a complex government that appears to grow more complex as the Republican party acts more like participants of Romper Room every day.

Herman probably couldn’t have done as good a job, but I still can’t help but love him like a rock.



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