Last week, I was on vacation in the Great State of Maine, where cell phone coverage is spotty, internet is mostly dialup, and the governor boasts the brightest intellect of the Precambrian era. Which means I was unable to chime in on the Google/Fox News debate. But I think this Saturday Night Live spoof of the debate is a note-perfect commentary: Rick Perry continued his descent into inanity, Michele Bachmann crazied it up, Jon Huntsman would be the leading candidate in a sane universe, and Herman Cain had some of the strongest moments of his short, dumb political career. He did not do this by stepping up his game and speaking intelligently; he did this by making a bunch of ignorant points in an exciting, folksy way.
And so Herman Cain decisively winning a straw poll in Florida on Saturday should be great news for Herman Cain, right? I guess. Except if all the headlines on Monday have to do with the candidate insisting that their victory was not a protest vote and that they are not a fluke, the candidate is probably not a serious contender. Republicans like Herman Cain. They would drink beer with Herman Cain. They probably wouldn't mind Herman Cain as a vice president. But there's no way this guy—this untested, jocular pizza-happy schmo—is going all the way. Consider this video for Cain's 9-9-9 jobs plan:
You've gotta love a video that ends with "If 10% is good enough for God, then 9% should be just fine for the Federal Government." (Whatever happened to "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's"?) By sticking hard to a flat income tax and a national sales tax, Cain makes himself into the latest in a long line of outsider candidates who cannot be taken seriously. Cain is a fringe candidate—a highly amusing fringe candidate, who I hope never drops out of the race—with fringe ideas.The Republican Party will keep him around for a while because he's one of the few candidates who garners a real, emotional response from a slice of the Republican electorate, but there's no way he'll get anywhere when the voting starts.