When Herman Cain announced his plans to seek the Republican presidential nomination, he told a crowd of supporters at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, “I look forward to continuing my travels across the country, engaging in discussions with the American people about the concerns facing our nation and sharing my ‘common sense solutions’ with them.”
The announcement yielded largely one of two responses. The first was the obvious: “Who is Herman Cain?” The other was the assumption that the then 65-year-old ex-Godfather’s Pizza exec turned conservative radio host was doing a glorified book tour and publicity blitz disguised as a presidential run.
The latter opinion was based on the fact that Cain didn’t exactly display a wide array of knowledge about government policy. Sure, he was a good performer, but he didn’t appear to know much of anything about the duties of the gig — which led most to conclude that his profile might rise, yet he would never be deemed a credible candidate. That might have been the case four or eight years ago, but this year’s GOP race for the nomination followed the kind of narrative typically seen on reality TV — leading Cain to be considered a frontrunner in the race, even if only for a millisecond.
Ultimately, past allegations of sexual misconduct, combined with his own embarrassing display of his lack of political knowledge, derailed his campaign. However, much like another “charming” but clueless politician who become a star after entering national politics, Herman Cain just won’t go away. If anything, his place as a national political figure has been all but cemented.
He’s been spotted chatting with the likes of Barbara Walters and Bill Maher even after suspending his campaign. Not to mention appearing alongside the likes of Stephen Colbert in forms best suited for his talent (i.e. satire). Now comes word that Cain has secured a much larger radio role than the one he held previously.
Popular conservative talk radio host Neal Boortz announced this week that he is retiring and will be replaced by the Morehouse graduate.
In a statement, Cain said, “I promise the torch Boortz is handing off to me will blaze as bright, as bold, and as loud as ever. Also, I am ecstatic that Neal has kept the radio host’s chair warm for me all these years. He may be ‘The TalkMaster,’ but Neal’s listeners know I’m the ‘The Dean of the University of Common Sense.’”
I imagine that university remains unaccredited, but as Cain has already proven, it doesn’t really matter much.
Suffice it to say, as great an irritant as his candidacy was to those who prefer serious candidates in grave times, Herman Cain has accomplished his mission. Not many ever truly believed that he had any desire to become president. Cain himself probably didn’t even expect for his presidential bid to be taken as seriously as it was. Most did have suspicions that this was in it for the fame and he certainly has a fair amount of it now.
Which is why in that same statement Cain added, “For all practical purposes, I am done with politics. Essentially, I wanted to continue to express my views and help educate what’s going on in this country.”
Translation: It’s nice to be an elected official and all, but everyone knows you can make far more money doing media and might even end up with more power to boot.
We’re always told not to knock the hustle, but there is reason to get a little queasy about “Black Walnut’s” success. It’s painfully apparent now that not even our political system can escape celebrity’s grip on culture. Seriously, Herman Cain really isn’t all that different from the reality stars who take the popularity gained for hurling four-letter words at their on-air enemies and somehow manage to become New York Times best-selling authors.
Now more than ever are the unqualified and unskilled being rewarded – mostly because they provide the kind of fodder needed by cable news networks and various media outlets to secure ratings and Web clicks.
Cain gave them stories, and in return he got his sought-after stardom. His rise is undoubtedly viewed as inspiration to others with similar aspirations and levels of shamelessness. So yes, congratulations to you, Herman Cain for getting everything you obviously were looking for. Everyone else has my condolences, as it’s only going to get worse from here on out.
Follow Michael Arceneaux on Twitter @youngsinick