The Washington Post

Herman Cain: The honey badger of Campaign 2012

Please stop. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File) (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Nope, and nope. There is a Josh Kraushaar who used to work at Politico, but he's not Karen's son and he works for the National Journal now.

But a little thing like that didn’t stop Block, who told Sean Hannity that he’d “confirmed” it. “He does work at Politico and that's his mother, yes,” Block said.

As Ana Marie Cox joked on Twitter, “I do not think ‘confirmed’ means what Mark Block thinks it means.”

I didn’t realize you could do that. Then again, most things about the Herman Cain campaign are things I didn’t realize you could do. From that smoking campaign ad to his singing response to allegations of sexual harassment, he hasn’t so much ignored the rulebook as torn the rulebook in half and jumped up and down on it until it was crushed into an unrecognizable pulp. And so far he’s still the front-runner.

Maybe I should learn from him. I am going to start confirming all kinds of things now.

“I don’t think that what you said about mutants being responsible for the War of 1812 is accurate,” my editor will say.

“Nope. Just confirmed it,” I’ll say. I assume from context that “confirmed” now means “I Googled it, but ignored the results.”

“No,” my editor will say. “That’s not how things work in the actual world.”

Once I thought so too. But now I’m not so sure. It seems to be working for Cain. Before, we had the sense that the Cain campaign was making things up as it went along. But now we have actual proof.

You’d think this would end it. But nothing seems capable of ending Cain’s “campaign.”

We tried laughing at him. He just laughed louder. We tried taking him seriously. This didn’t stop him from laughing.

Herman Cain is the honey badger of candidates. He doesn’t care. He’s impervious to fear, pain, logic, anything.

Herman Cain beggars analogy. He’s the Google Buzz of candidates, lingering far longer than anyone hoped or expected, contributing nothing. He’s the coyote who’s just run off the edge of the cliff. He won’t fall as long as he keeps running. The rules don’t apply. Not even gravity applies.

Scandals that would have sunk more, well, realistic campaigns have left him still kicking, like a perverse Energizer Bunny.

He’s the Revenge of Chucky — the initially funny, then just creepy fellow who keeps chasing you around the house, yelling, “9-9-9!” I have no idea where the off switch is. No one seems to. When all that remains of the Santorum campaign is an unpleasant Google trail, Herman Cain’s voice will still echo over the plains, bellowing something about an electric fence.

The campaign was never real. You can’t destroy something that wasn’t there to begin with. It’s like stopping people from believing in the Yeti, or in a grand realignment of government that will increase revenues and lower taxes. Some myths linger.

We would panic, but we have this idea that the American electorate is sane and reasonable and will wake up soon. “None of this is real,” we murmur. “This is all a book tour. I want to go home.”

But when you open your eyes, it’s still there.

“Look, Herman, how many copies of the book must I buy to make you go away?”

“999,” Cain says. You had the feeling he would say that.

In the face of a mounting storm of unpleasant revelations, Cain is just carrying on as usual. Sexual harassment scandal? What scandal? He denies. He belittles. He strides onward. He is as immortal as he is unrealistic. He recently implied that he belonged on Mount Rushmore. Better there than in the White House.

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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