A D.C.-area snow in October, and Herman Cain still leading in Iowa: a sign of a permanent change in our cosmos or just random freaks of ecological and political nature?

Republicans have a breakaway layup to win the White House and to further their majorities in Congress, and yet they are still trick-or-treating with Cain. The Hermanator, despite myriad gaffes and ridiculous ads (at least according to some pundits), has yet to implode and threatens to become a permanent skeleton at the feast.

This isn’t the Republican establishment’s plan. This isn’t why the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove are raising millions. They want to further cement a pro-business, anti-tax agenda, and one presumes that Cain would impede that agenda, not because of his ideology, but because his inexperience and propensity for the strange would make him unelectable and a drag on the ticket.

Most likely, Cain will have his day and then fade. Within hours of the Iowa poll results, the Caln camp received some less welcome news: allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior toward two female employees in the 1990s. Cain denied the charges. But the episode is a reminder that he may be remembered as a sideshow. In that, he would be like other protest candidates in presidential primaries: Howard Dean and Gary Hart, for example. Democrats have long had a tradition of protest voting. Now it is the Republicans’ turn.

But how long will the party that loves orderly succession flirt with its restive, angry side? (Cain plays to this Republican Id brilliantly in an online ad released in August that can only be described as postmodern, meaning that every convention of political ad-making, and indeed politics, is flaunted.) Discontent and anger with the establishment are growing among Republicans, and President Obama isn’t the only force they resent. The Tea Party and Cain both grow stronger from anger that the future is rigged for the benefit of the wealthy and connected. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican thought leader, gave a nod to this sentiment in his recent speech to the Heritage Foundation. While most of the speech was a lengthy defense of the status quo in the guise of an attack on the dangers of Obama’s perceived socialism, Ryan did warn against “crony capitalism and corporate welfare.”

Is an October southern snowfall a sign of climate change and Herman Cain a sign of an emerging Republican insurgency? Establishment Republicans are in denial about both.