don't care how much soul-searching he's undergone. How hard he prayed
for guidance. How much time spent finally talking to his wife about all
those nights he worked late at the office. Or any of the other 999
reasons he had for dropping out of the campaign, as he announced
None of this compares to the unforgivable sin Herman Cain is committing by abandoning the TV debates.
The Republican Debacle Debates of 2012 -- a maxi-series of 22 (at last count), the 16th of which ran
on Fox News this past Saturday night -- may not further elucidate for
the investment community or the public at large which candidate can best
run the country in this time of economic and moral crisis. But they
make for good TV.
In previous years, the debates were drudgery, ignored even by wonks.
This electoral season they have become hot entertainment. Ratings have
been soaring, and hosts of people consider them must-see TV. ABC will
bring you the next one this Saturday at 9 p.m. ET from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
As an ensemble, I haven't been able to decide whether the current
cast is the Four Marx Brothers of political theatre. Or the Three
Stooges. Maybe both. But the show worked as entertainment because of
Was it his golden voice, his folksy manner, that sly look in his eye,
which told the folks at home he must be kidding about his apparent
ignorance of foreign policy when the discussion turns to Libya or an
economic plan that makes economists fall off the couch in laughter?
Whatever, Cain is the hottest TV performer to come out of the woodwork since Sarah Palin was the life of the party in 2008.
Herman Cain was the man who could turn any aimless disjointed
discussion about a plethora of serious problems facing the nation into a
buildup for his punch line. We played a guessing game in my home when
he would bring up those magic numbers, repeating with him:
nine-nine-nine (rim shot). It goes down in political showbiz history
with former President Nixon's line on the old comedy show, Laugh In, when he asked, "Sock it to me?"
The Hermanator, as he called himself, energized the ensemble. Without
him, the Gang of Seven hits the straight line on the EKG, as we saw in
the troupe's latest Fox News performance.
What's the matter? Doesn't Herman Cain know the show must go on?
I can understand the allegations of inappropriate behavior can get a
man down. They certainly indicate he had an active social life. So what
if he has an Achilles penis?
Protestations that he "did not have sexual relations with that woman" didn't hurt Bill Clinton.
What if Newt Gingrich decided not to be a candidate just because he
had some issues as an adulterer, fornicator, liar, and hypocrite? The
American people are quick to forget, if not forgive, as Newt's
hot-air-propelled zeppelin picks up speed in the polls.
All Cain's problems could have been dealt with by tweaking the
campaign message. As political consultant Nick Taylor suggested to me,
he could have independently changed his nickname from "The Hermanator"
to "The Sperminator."
Cain can still serve the party despite his coming down with a bad
case of "campaign interruptus." By announcing that his decision was a
"suspension" rather than a "termination" (which would impede the
donation flow), Cain can now look for creative ways to help the TV show
he is leaving in the lurch.
Since we are making up rules of debates as we go along -- having
discarded the original concept, dating back to Athens circa 400 BC, in
favor of glorified press conferences -- there is no reason Herman Cain
cannot make special guest star appearances as the moderator, replacing
Wolf Blitzkreig and other crowd-pleasers.
Cain taking on the field in the next debate would do even better in the ratings than Donald Trump.
While he's praying, may his Good Lord tell the sinner, if nothing else, that he should think of his book sales?