THE REIGN OF CAIN

Thinking about Herman Cain, I can’t get the following tune out of my head. Maybe, I should call 9-9-9.

 

 

Cue the music: The brain of Cain turned out to be inane.

 

I think I’ve got it.

 

Wait, wasn’t that lyric, or something like it, from My Fair Lady? Speaking of which, how many fair ladies did Cain run around with, or harass?

 

 

Was that a gratuitous shot? Maybe. If Cain never had these ethical breeches (long-term, extra-marital affairs and acts of sexual harassment), we owe him a great apology. If he did as alleged, he owes all of his followers an even bigger one.

 

To be fair, I’ve never been one of his followers, or even followed the Republican pre-Primaries all that closely. This statement is coming from someone who is somewhat of a political junkie—at least I get my fix every four years.

 

The impression I have of the Republican pre-Primaries is that the more any of these GOP candidates talk, the better it is for the incumbent, Barack Obama. So what if the economy stinks, there is no coherent foreign policy and we seem to be engaged in about 15 wars? Do you see the collection of idiots on the other side? Newt Gingrinch? Rick Parry? Michele Bachmann? Seriously. Sarah Palin is beginning to look like an elder stateswoman of the party. Well, some party.

 

 

Of course, one of them, Mr. Herman Cain, has dropped out of the race, or as he said, suspended his campaign.

 

A fraud named Cain suspended his campaignthese freakin' show tunes.

 

But, you can still contribute to his campaign: It says so right on his website, right next to that big 9-9-9 slogan/motto/plan.

 

That’s right, just 9-9-9. and for $15.99, you can get two large, one-topping pizzas delivered to your door.

 

Did I mention that Cain is the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza? Of course, you knew that.

 

So with yet another politician derailed by some kind of sex scandal, is there anything we can learn from this? Well, I should have learned not to ask questions—even semi-rhetorical ones—without having an answer, but that’s the beauty of writing in real time.

 

To that question, my best answer is this: As screwed up as politics is and as dysfunctional as our country is, we should still be quite careful before looking to a “political outsider” as our presidential candidate of choice. By most accounts, Herman Cain led Godfather’s Pizza from near-bankruptcy to profitability, knows the restaurant business very well, and is a compelling motivational speaker. But, what the heck does he know about the myriad of issues that an elected official at this level has to have command of?

 

When both parties offer such flawed men and women that seem light years away from the ideal of John F Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage,” it is tempting to put hopes in an outsider. But, do we really want a Donald Trump or a Ross Perot running our country? Joe the Plumber, anyone?

 

As lacking as our field of presidential candidates seem to be, at least most of them have been vetted by some sort of process. Politics is not, inherently, a dishonorable profession, is it? Is it? All of this is quite confounding.

 

Admittedly, I’m a lifelong Democrat, and this affiliation has long been one of my identities. Philly sports fan and Democrat: I root for both, even when it’s quite inconvenient for me to do so. In that light, I have voted for a Democrat in every Presidential election, and did so very enthusiastically for Obama in 2008. I was thrilled when he beat back Hillary Clinton’s challenge in the Democratic Primaries, and relieved and elated when he prevailed over McCain and Palin.

 

Obama has severely disappointed me thus far in his three-year reign, but in my lifetime, he would probably grade at least middle-of-the pack among U.S. Presidents. Yep, that’s damning with faint praise, but let’s face it: I may not be that young anymore, but Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln were way before my time.

 

It would be great for our country and “my” party for Obama to suddenly become more magnetic, more proactive, more transparent and more of a principled leader. It would be great. In the meantime, and as much as I want the Democrats to win again, it would also be wonderful for him to have a credible challenger from within and/or from outside the party. Will that happen? I’m not holding my breath.

 

I will be holding my nose as I watch the Republican circus unfold, and then bracing myself for the even crazier spectacle of the general election. On some level, I will appreciate the humor of it all. On a deeper level, it is a little depressing that the political process, itself, has become a running (no pun intended, or avoided) joke that often produces candidates that are bad jokes, if you will.

 

Truly, I don’t need all this humor; I can find and create enough of it outside of presidential campaigns.

 

This brings us back to the whole travesty of the Cain campaign, or was it the Cain Mutiny? How was Herman Cain’s candidacy ever taken seriously enough for him to once be considered the Republican frontrunner? What does that say about him, his party and all of us needing to find inspiration somewhere—anywhere?

 

In the days before he suspended his campaign, Cain posted a piece by Mychal Massie of The Daily Rant entitled, “Ginger White; Another Loser Trying to Cash In.”  This opinion/attack/defense piece ran on his site’s home page, just underneath the 9-9-9 info and “Donate Now’ imperative. Ginger White, as you may know, was the woman who accused Cain of having a 13-year extra-marital affair with her.

 

For some reason—and I am not inventing this apparent glitch—the Herman Cain website, if not his campaign and our ability to still contribute, appears to be down. Maybe, it’s just my computer, but it was up when I started to write this piece. I’m not sure what this means, and I’m also not sure what it means that the politics of personal destruction is still so prevalent that a former leading candidate for President of the United States would feel the need to post that piece on the home page of his website.

 

Curious times, indeed. Times that have me reading an op-ed piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (not sure how or why I came there) that concludes with this paragraph about Cain’s suspension.

 

In light of his denials, his quitting the race (in a way that he can still reap donations) didn't add up either: A person of real character might have stayed on if he were truly innocent. Nevertheless, his departure did Republicans a big favor. Quite apart from the sordid stories, this much was clear: The crash the nation heard was not the fall of possible presidential timber.

 

 

So, where do we find men and women of presidential timber, and what the heck constitutes timber these days? Which has me singing…

 

The reign of Cain turned out to be in vain… I think I’ve lost it.

 

 

 

As always, thank you for reading. Please check out my other books, blogs and speaking information.

 

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