So Herman Cain, the implausible, yet real black cracker from Georgia, now passes into the dustbin of history hoist on his own excessively favored petard. The GOP seems cursed forever to relive in ever new ways its morbid fascination with the wanderings of the Clintonian phallus; it flails ineffectually at Obama, wishing that it could focus its hate through discovering a sexual offense in someone who seems contentedly married to a comely wife.
The disagreeably TMI details of Cain’s forays up the skirts of job-seekers (recalling Joan Rivers’ career-making joke on Carson: ‘Are men threatened by smart women? What guy ever reached up a woman’s dress looking for a library card?’) are unseemly, but no Fox commentator can condemn them as inappropriate. Kenneth Starr’s Monica-gate performance, his careful parsing of the trail of semen stains up a certain blue garment, remains within living memory. Our biped politics have always been driven by the exigencies of the male organ, but the modern politicization of the bedroom, stirred to life by the ‘60s and exaggerated beyond farce by the Christian ‘80s, now places it in our, um, faces far more immediately. There is no escape from its heavy-veined demands.
The end of Cain’s brief aurora borealis was yawningly predictable, but his success at Republican speed-dating, while it lasted, reflected some of that coven’s loony core values: contempt for the vulnerable, faux populism in grating tones, ignorance as virtue, the whole mythology of personal superiority reflected in access to ample supplies of cash. Even Cain’s groping was financed by siphoning expense money from a corrupt lobbying system in which luxury suites and high-end snatch were coin of the realm. Cain must be dumbfounded to suddenly realize that his participation in this business as usual is now the cause of his downfall.
The real tragedy for Cain, as outlined by a New York magazine commentator this week, is that his goal of becoming a Sarah Palin-like celebrity and cash in massively on the inspirational lecture circuit is now endangered. He has become a laughingstock while also exposed as a sleaze, probably a fatal combination. But his intuition was faultless: politics as spectacle, the New Hampshire primary as reality television. Maybe he can court Kim Kardashian, and put his hand up her dress live for the cameras.