But regarding substance on policy matters, Cain obviously falls short of what's required to inspire confidence among mainstream America to the degree that he's incited the passions of the GOP's Tea Party base. Indeed, Cain's strategy for success has been fairly simple; it's just all Tea Party, all the time. Thus far, Cain's been the best of the GOP's cast of anti-Romneys in brewing up that particular Tea Party blend of insanely outlandish rhetoric ("Muslims are trying to force Sharia law on America"); bi-polar political positions such as being both for and against abortion; and poorly thought-out policy proposals like his now-ubiquitous "9-9-9" plan. And he's been best at doing it from within that hard-assed, chest-thumping sphere of sheer ignorance that Tea Partiers find so addictive. It's Palin-inspired shtick that has served him well in finagling his way to frontrunner status. The problem is, such shtick doesn't play well with the mainstream.
This means that for traditional party conservatives, the current state of affairs is likely one of eye-gouging frustration considering that overall, the Republicans have fairly well-executed Mitch McConnell's "one term presidency" edict. In one way or another they've managed to keep the President on the ropes both legislatively and politically for a good portion of his term and force Obama into policy concessions that have completely demoralized a large portion of his base; which is a factor that could affect Democratic turnout in 2012. And of course, there's unemployment. Economic forecasts continue to show the national unemployment rate remaining over 9 percent up to and beyond Obama's first term.
But in Cain, these gains are offset by what's unmistakably obvious: If the goal is to prevail over "Yes We Can," then the GOP's current frontrunner's name might as well be Herman Can't. And that's what's sparked the anxiety of so many traditional party conservatives to the point at which a swift colon balancing seems in order. Outside of reprising the role Palin served as McCain's 2008 running mate -- energizing a narrow, but stridently right-wing slice of the GOP base -- it's obvious that Cain cannot be considered a serious general election threat to Obama. As McCain, himself is now likely to acknowledge, for the GOP to recapture the Oval Office, it will take more than simply rolling out a black, Palin stunt double. Which is kind of a shame since, in terms of pure political theatre, it would be marvelous to fantasize about an Obama-Cain debate that could legitimately carry the epic potential of a Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao showdown. But in all likelihood, that's about all it will ever be -- a marvelous fantasy.
The Black Walnut
Indeed there are scant few observers willing to go out on a limb in predicting a scenario other than one which concludes that long before the finish of the primary process; the thought of Herman Cain becoming the Republican nominee -- like the candidate's beloved Haagen Dazs' "Black Walnut" ice cream -- will no longer exist.
This, of course, would suit Cain just fine since quite clearly being president is not his actual goal. Predicting such an outcome is fairly easy in light of the abundance of clear signs sent by the campaign -- and these signs aren't the ones that have "HERMAN CAIN FOR PRESIDENT!" written on them. Odds are that by November 7, 2012 -- the day after the Presidential election -- Cain will have vested himself well into the process of extending his 15 fame-filled minutes to beyond the limits of one's imagination by again borrowing from the Palin formula of parlaying a failed candidacy into a financially lucrative world of speaking engagements, book sales, Facebook rants, and a show on Fox which, knowing that network, would probably be titled: Herman on the Mount (" Herman's Head " is already taken).
Again, all the signs are there. How, for example, does one run for President of the United States without assembling a legitimate field organization in key states like New Hampshire? Indeed, a recent New York Times article reported about incidents in which Cain has more or less snubbed deep-pocketed potential campaign contributors which further raises questions about how a candidate expects to run a campaign in the absence of a relentless fundraising operation. Unless a massive slew of benefactors -- or just one of the Koch brothers -- offers to intervene financially, (which, according to the Times article would seem a waste of time) how could Cain reasonably imagine competing against a potential billion dollar Obama campaign? The Times' article also included quotes from Cain staffers referencing a "campaign in chaos" and detailed at least one incident in which Cain literally "ignored real voters."
But on to the most obvious question: What serious candidate for President of the United States embarks on a 10-stop book tour during the height of the nomination process? The answer seems apparent: Most likely, someone whose own public profile has reached its pinnacle therefore needs to be viewed appropriately; as an once-in-a-lifetime financial opportunity that should be maximized.
Indeed, Cain has obviously done little to suppress the aura of a person who is more interested in maintaining his place in the realm of social relevancy than in capturing the office of the presidency. Interestingly, Cain's lengthy employment background lists among his many endeavors, an extended period during which he worked as a restaurant industry lobbyist -- yep, a freakin' pitchman! Among some, this suggests that for Cain, a run for president is all part of the pitch for something other than the presidency.
And again, Cain's pitch includes the full array of rhetorical dog-whistling guaranteed to capture the attention of the hard right-- his proposal for electrified border fences for example -- plucked from an ever-expanding catalogue of increasingly zany statements, madcap ideas, and foolish ventures all designed to keep his "presidential campaign" relevant. Among such ventures includes his completion in early October, of the latest rite of passage for "serious" GOP presidential wannabees; a pilgrimage up to New York City for a clown summit with fellow pitchman Donald Trump.
But recent events may indicate that for traditional party conservatives at least, there may be some light at the end of that long, dark tunnel which is Herman Cain's presidential "ambitions." Cain is credited for stirring the passions of the GOP's Tea Party base. But now questions have been raised as to whether he's been able to keep his own passions in check. These questions stem from recent reports of complaints of sexual harassment made against Cain during his stint as National Restaurant Association head.
Cain, meanwhile, appeared to be in total modified limited hangout mode on the day the story broke. When asked by a reporter had he ever been charged with sexual harassment, Cain's response was to duck the question by answering it with an answer: "Have you ever been charged with sexual harassment," Cain replied?
Subsequent to that encounter, Cain began offering what amounted to essentially tidbits of contrasting explanations about when he first learned of the charges and his understanding of the nature of the settlement outcome.
Meanwhile, Cain spokesperson, J.D. Gordon also skirted the allegations by employing what for conservatives has become a trite method for avoiding personal responsibility in matters such as this -- blaming the "liberal media" -- a tack that has now supplanted patriotism as the last refuge of a scoundrel. It's the equivalent of a rat caught in a mousetrap due to its own foolhardiness, defending itself by squealing "entrapment!"
"Fearing the message of Herman Cain, who is shaking up the political landscape in Washington," Gordon charged, "inside-the-Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on (him)."
Doubtlessly, there are many who'd find that response somewhat reminiscent of Clarence Thomas' successful use of the " high-tech lynching for uppity blacks " race card against the charges of sexual harassment made against him by Anita Thomas.