Over time, politicians tend to make the best politicians. Herman Cain is the anti-politician in an anti-politician era. Time will tell if he is crazy like a fox or as a loon.
In fact, we may be about to find out how deep his support really is. With the news of allegations of sexual harassment from more then a decade ago, Cain begins the traditional political dance of charges and denials of past misdeeds. Some voters may see this as typical politics and may rally around Cain. It may give him Republican street cred to get shot at by the usual suspects in the media.
Up to now, though, Cain has been mostly a blank canvas, and the only entertainment in the GOP race. And the impressive poll numbers that Carter cites should not be ignored; there are lessons to be learned in the Cain phenomenon.
Cain is a placeholder for mostly undecided Republicans who don’t want the party to be too rehearsed, cautious or timid. Cain is even a good reminder to Democrats that there is a strong appetite for optimism; something President Obama and Nancy Pelosi can’t offer. They are not optimistic, and they don’t want to be. It’s not in their nature. Angrily insisting that you are optimistic makes you seem pessimistic.
Cain is not the face, nor the voice, of the angry voters’ candidate. He is having a ball: He is so happy he gives the cynics a headache. Thanks to the Cain candidacy, no one can say the GOP is only for the angry and resentful. On the other hand, it is easy to see that the Occupy protesters and their Democratic sympathizers are not happy.
Cain is exciting, but the most exciting thing in American politics is always the phenom candidate: Someone who goes from nowhere to somewhere in a hurry. The shooting stars usually flame out, so no one in the GOP field should overreact to the Cain candidacy.
Let Herman be Herman for a while. But no one else should try. If Mitt, or Rick, or Newt, or any other candidate tried to be Herman, it would look ridiculous.
And, as Lee Atwater used to say, in politics, never kick a man when he is up.