It’s totally irrelevant and means nothing at all that the
sexual harassment settlement separation agreement at or near the center of the Herman Cain scandal liberal leftwing media attack was dated “9/99,”or that the sum it provided to the alleged harassee was $45,000, not only a numerological “9,” but a reiteration of Mr. 9-9-9′s “lucky number” 45, to which he devotes a chapter -- 9, of course -- of his recently published autobiography, the same autobio that he’s been hawking while political observers have been suggesting he ought to have been creating a campaign organization in crucial primary states.
Using a pseudo-campaign as a book tour at the center of a “business plan” candidacy was not the peak of Cain’s hubris. It’s just the setting. The Icarus peak of his fame-flight was the notorious cigarette-smoking man video. I assume you’ve seen it…
…but here it is anyway, for the great archives:
Numerous observers confessed or claimed to be mystified by the point of the above, though most have agreed that it vaulted Mark Block, Cain’s campaign chief and the cigarette-smoking man himself, to “iconic” status. My own interpretation is that the video directly expresses the truth of the Cain campaign: It’s an ugly joke for people who are convinced the whole political system is an ugly joke and yet who at the same time are stirred by residual and compensatory, paradoxical hyper-patriotism. The music starts out with a synthetic crap from a can intro, suitable for the soundtrack of a late ’80s action thriller or porno film, then turns into an anthem with the refrain “I am America,” as sung by a female vocalist. In context, the lack of irony in the song is itself ironic, but inverted again into ironic self-affirmation by Cain’s drawn-out grin.
Since the above may already read as complicated and confusing, as inevitably in any analysis of the ideology of conservative anti-government governance, I’ll simplify: America, for Cain, is the remote love object for un-handsome emasculate middle-aged self-abusers, but “the Cain train” is a route to repair -- pure joy for the sake of joy, totally apart from anything as psychically trivial as policy positions or anything else that merely makes sense to any overdeveloped neo-cortex.
It’s not clear that Cain ever expected anyone to notice the ad, but it worked as more “no publicity is bad publicity publicity” for him anyway… and then the Politico story, the first of many getting worse, appeared. Some profess to believe that the
scandal liberal leftwing media hit hasn’t hurt Cain yet, but my own guess is that those polls are lagging, and in the meantime they express what they’ve always expressed: Around 25-30% of the Republican electorate is happy to communicate via pollsters how much they hate you (and Mitt, too, but mostly you).
That you find them pathetic and disgusting is fine. It’s kind of the point. Anyway, it’s all irrelephant, just as it has been all along, since Cain was never going to be anyone’s nominee. Even the cigarette-smoking men never really believed that he was. They just believed that it was worth going through the motions of believing it. Because they hate you, and are happy for you to be reminded. And I’m guessing they would mostly hate this:
…even though as a narrative the video ends up boomeranging back and supporting their cultural assumptions and prejudices, its mere possibility confuses and depresses them (some more). Not because they’re racists or sexists or anti-gay or whatever -- though they probably are, just like you and me and everyone else -- but just because it’s not for them at all. It’s not even remotely interested in them. They are irrelevant to it, and it might be the future after all -- not Cain and his co-star and their loyal confused and depressed certain and enthusiastic supporters.
As for me, I can take it either way -- am somehow confused and depressed by the Internet/Cocaine video, but also kind of enjoy it, at least once through… even if it, even if the whole story I’m trying to put together here, also makes me feel old and irrelephant, just like I felt listening to a young OWSer named “Ketchup” on the Colbert show the other night describe herself as a “female-bodied person.”
Maybe it’s only a tiny minority who are living irrelevantly into that science fiction future -- in which people named after condiments and other banalities fax themselves or might as well, uninterdistinguishably from one corporeal instance to another -- but it’s still an essential part of our Internet-Cocaine moment. Most of the English-speaking world already had a word for “female-bodied person,” begins with a “w,” and will go on, also udderly irrelephant, even to itself, with or without cocaine, co-Cain, or whatever else.
I think I’m okay with it, but I suspect that fact ought to worry me.