This probably would have been as good a day for the asteroid to strike us as any.
Herman Cain is joining Fox News as a contributor. Forget Sarah Palin. Far too 2008. Besides, she is ready for real life now. The transition phase is over.
“Does he really have anything to say?” Howard Kurtz wondered on Twitter. Has this ever stopped anyone from pursuing a lucrative career as a talking head before? It is a positive impediment. When you start out with things to say, you notice when you run out and want to stop. If you have nothing to say, you can talk for hours. Most people with nothing to say do. Having a lot of ways to say nothing is one of the secrets to a successful campaign. If anything, Herman Cain had too many concrete ideas.
Besides, it is nice of Fox News to offer failed candidates a temporary home as they begin the transition from this unhealthy, itinerant lifestyle — bounding from Holiday Inn to Ramada and talking ceaselessly about themselves — back to civilian life. You cannot just quit cold turkey. Remember what happened to Al Gore? You have to abandon the stage in stages, gradually dim the limelight, or you risk the kind of sudden withdrawal that turns people into squalling, ill-coiffeured, wild-eyed menaces to society: in a word, Donald Trump. Denied the healthier outlet of Fox News contributing, such unfortunates would be forced to more desperate measures, like pitching reality TV series based on their family lives among bears, the only other way to mainline that pure attention on which they have become dependent. Fox News is the Nicorette of campaigns, even if sometimes it urges folks like Mike Huckabee to think of taking up full smoking again.
Still it takes a while to lose the urge. Months after the campaign ceases, you awaken in the middle of the night with the dim sense that you should be shaking the hand of an Iowan and asking him his opinions on foreign policy. You lie awake, staring at the clock, wondering if it is too late to telephone your ex-girlfriend and ask her to pledge her support at the maximum individual level. You start muttering vague promises and evasions under your breath and wake up the dog. Thank heavens for Fox News. People with microphones, demanding your thoughts! It’s almost as good as the real thing.
With Herman Cain, who seemed always poised on the edge between Candidate Who Hopes to Be Taken Seriously and Candidate With a Prominent Mustache, the transition seems likely to be easier.
There was much to love about Herman Cain. His mustache. The pizza. That ad where his chief of staff (also mustached) smoked while gazing into the camera. That other equally bizarre ad with the cowboys and yellow flowers? The slow smile? He even co-hosted a rally with Stephen Colbert in Charleston. Ah, the memories.
There was that sexual harassment thing? He had a gospel album!
The trouble with spending any time writing about presidential politics on the Internet is that you find yourself, with no irony whatsoever, uttering sentences like, “I miss Herman Cain,” and “Newt Gingrich should talk more.” These are not sentiments the average human will ever express, and the average human is fortunate in that. But there you have it. We have our forms of withdrawal, too. We lie awake wondering what Herman Cain is up to, and whether he is still smiling slowly and turning towards the camera.
I did miss Herman Cain. Now that we will see more of him, I am sure the feeling will fade.