Will Herb Cain Steele the 2012 Repugnican nomination?

Republican presidential candidate and businessman Herman Cain makes a point while participating in a Republican presidential debate with the other hopefuls at Dartmouth College in Hanover

Reuters photo

Pizza guy Herman Cain pontificates at last night’s Repugnican Tea Party debate in New Hampshire. I didn’t watch the debate — I’m not a masochist — but I understand that the highlight of the debate was Michele “With Eyes Like Deer’s in Headlights” Bachmann quite presidentially remarking that if you turn Cain’s “999” plan upside down, you have 666. (Video clip of that here.)

Wow. What does it say about the Repugnican Tea Party that a former pizza boss is in its top tier of 2012 presidential contenders?

Really: WTF? The head of Subway is too busy to run for the White House?

A Reuters/Ipsos poll puts Mitt Romney at No. 1, with 23 percent of Repugnican Tea Party support, and Herman Cain at No. 2, with 19 percent. Not Rick Perry, but Ron Paul, came in at No. 3, with 13 percent, and Perry came in fourth, with 10 percent.

That poll was taken within the past week, but before last night’s Repugnican Tea Party presidential debate.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, also taken within the past week but before last night’s debate, puts Cain at No. 1, with 27 percent; Romney at No. 2, with 23 percent; Perry at No. 3, with 16 percent; and Paul at No. 4, with 11 percent.

It’s safe to conclude, I think, that for the time being, anyway, it’s Romney and Cain at the top two slots, with Perry and Paul competing for No. 3.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect Herman Cain to emerge as the 2012 Repugnican Tea Party nominee. Never having held elected office, and with his “999” plan kind of sounding like something that the “rent is too damn high” guy might make the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, I’d be surprised if Cain emerges as the victor.

However, it’s not impossible. The Repugnican Party reacted to the election of Barack Obama in November 2008 by making Michael Steele the first black chairman of the Repugnican National Committee in January 2009.

Steele’s highest elected office had been lieutenant governor. Of Maryland. That apparently was the best that the Repugnican Party could do in terms of finding a black person within its membership to head the national party.

Steele cynically was selected primarily for the color of his skin. It was the Repugnican Party’s attempt at “proving” to the nation that it wuvs black people, too.

Of course, Steele — because he was, in a bizarre example of reverse racial discrimination, chosen for his race and not for his competence — was a bumbling party leader, and the Repugs ousted him in January of this year and replaced him with the more traditional face of the Repugnican Tea Party leader — a white guy.

After Steele, I’d thought that the Repugnican Tea Party leaders were done with trying to match Obama with another black man, but perhaps not. Yes, I could see them believing that the way to go in November 2012 would be to put another black man against Obama, even if no one in the party knew who the hell Herman Cain was a few months ago. (Sarah Palin not long ago infamously repeatedly referred to him as “Herb” Cain.)

Actually, the Repugs might see that — besides his race — as Cain’s strength: that he’s an unknown. People know Mitt Romney and they don’t like him, as evidenced by the fact that he can’t garner even a full 25 percent of his own party’s support. Cain is unknown enough that he might slip through, just like President Hopey-Changey did.

No president in my lifetime has not first been a U.S. governor, a U.S. senator or a U.S. vice president before ascending to the Oval Office.

If a former pizza guy actually makes it to the White House, while there might finally be some truth in our telling our children that they, too, could become president of the United States one day, it really would be time to seriously seek Canadian citizenship.

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