The real problem with Herman Cain


But he’ll never prevail.

The reason is as clear as the nose on his face — well, it’s slightly under his nose.

Herman Cain is a Mustached American.

Mustached Americans are routinely humiliated in public, accused of resembling ’70s porn stars, Hitler or some fusion of the two that does not bear thinking on.

They never get the girl. They sometimes get the girl and place her under a train, then ride off cackling into the sunset.

The mustached man is the person who turns out to have led your child into the woods and done away with her.

Sometimes, horrifyingly, they’re mistaken for hipsters. Sometimes — worse yet — they a re hipsters.

The last Mustached American President was William Howard Taft. And if Chris Christie’s prolonged decision not to run for president taught us anything, it is that a resemblance to Taft is actually a handicap in today’s political climate.

Mustached Americans are frowned at on public transit. We shepherd our children away from them. Draw a mustache on a beautiful lady, and you’ve defaced her. Draw a mustache on a picture of the president, and everyone thinks you’re comparing him to Hitler.

When was the last time you rooted for a mustached American on film? In “Gone With the Wind,” Rhett’s mustache was as much a character as he was. “This is a Man,” it seemed to say. Ashley Wilkes, Rhett’s romantic rival, was clean-shaven, and we all knew that meant he was a shrinking, indecisive violet.

But the Mustached — “The Great Unshaven,” as some call them nowadays — had a bad run in the 20th century. Hitler? Stalin? Gaddafi? Osama? All mustached. It did harm.

Even on a smaller scale, the mustached men were always responsible for the day’s horror. Charles Manson. Josef Fritzl. Ted Kaczynski.

“These are not a representative sampling of Mustached Americans,” some protested. “Some of them aren’t even American!” As long as Tom Selleck remained on the air, and Goulet on the airwaves, perhaps that was true. But when “Jeopardy!’s” trusted Alex Trebek shaved, we crossed a Rubicon. Mustaches no longer implied reliability and competence. They were archaic. Hipsters began wearing them.

And we wouldn’t vote for one.

Some people are uneasy about Mormons. “Someone once told me that they wear their beliefs under their clothes,” your aunt tells you. And nothing makes you uneasier than having to wonder what people are wearing underneath their clothes. It gnaws at you.

Mustached Americans wear their beliefs on their faces. We know immediately where they stand. They look like oil barons, or the Monopoly Man, or one of the Wright Brothers. We worry they may try to sell us used cars.

We haven’t taken it out on Herman Cain yet — he continues to surge. But the surge won’t last. The writing is already appearing on the walls.

The American Mustache Institute is in the process of voting for this year’s Goulet Award recipient, honoring the best representative of the Mustached American community over the past year. Herman Cain might not even win that — he’s up against Jimmy McMillan!

America is not ready for a Mustached American President. It’s as simple as that.

“Look, it’s a choice,” people say. “And it’s not that we’re intolerant. There have been mustaches in the military for decades. But a mustache is something you draw on the Mona Lisa to show disrespect. It is not something you grow on purpose.”

Only recently have two Mustached Americans been permitted to marry.

Now we have the chance to atone for decades of putting Mustached Americans out of the movies and under trucker hats.

But we won’t take it. It’s a modern prejudice, shared by people who otherwise view themselves as enlightened and open-minded thinkers, who permit you to marry shoes and operate medical marijuana dispensaries out of their garages.

And Herman Cain will be the next victim. Mustached President? Don’t hold your breath. It might be a good name for a hipster band, though.

Of course, there is one thing Cain could do. But it’s too horrible to bear contemplating. The electorate is fickle. But a mustache is a loyal friend.

Still, it grows back.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".

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