THE LIMITED POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING
Well, Cain's out -- he says he's "suspending" his campaign, but he'll endorse another candidate at some point, so he's really gone. I assume this means Gingrich will now approach 50% in some polls, which means that even the amateurishness of his clown-car campaign organization won't be enough to keep him from being competitive with Romney.
The New York Times, in its article about the end of Cain's campaign, cites the standard response to what Cain has been doing all this time:
Mr. Cain's critics have long posited that he was more interested in creating celebrity for himself -- as a means to sell books and increase speaking fees -- than in any serious candidacy.
I've got to go with what Michael Tomasky said about that in The New York Review of Books:
The commonly held view in the political world is that Cain isn't really serious about running -- he's trying to sell copies of his book and jack up his speaking fees....
But after reading This Is Herman Cain!, I doubt very much that that is how he sees things. Cain is so serene, so certain of his superiority to most of those around him, so assured that he is carrying out God's plan for him and for America..., that he thinks that in fact, it's everyone else's candidacy that is a joke or a lark. He writes like a man who is confident that he will wake up on January 20, 2013, ready to take the oath of office. To Cain, this has all been foreordained.... He doesn't have a ground operation in New Hampshire because true CEOs of Self don't need things like ground operations. They exert their will and they win.
("CEO of Self," as I noted yesterday, is what Cain repeatedly calls himself in his book.)
I believe Cain was wildly unrealistic about his chances -- but why wouldn't that happen in America? Here it's part of the civic religion that you can do whatever you want in life, just as long as you believe in yourself. It's not surprising to me that a guy like Cain would think that's true about a presidential run made despite a lack of skills, knowledge, or adequate preparation.
This dovetails perfectly with the right-wing notion that no ordinary person needs the government's help for anything -- you're supposed to be able to overcome any obstacle through will and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. It was especially delightful to white right-wingers to see a black man pursuing the White House with that implicit message -- it reassured them that comfortable whites don't have any societal obligation whatsoever to non-whites who are struggling. It's possible that every time Cain said that he didn't have a clue how he'd handle a certain foreign-policy crisis but he'd turn to his experts and come up with a solution, the rubes heard that not as a dangerous lack of knowledge, but as a fondness for self-sufficiency and bootstrapping. It was the political equivalent of going off the grid, in this case the grid of reliance on (ick!) experts.
Rank-and-file wingers fall for all this nonsense. I think Cain falls for it, too. To some extent he may have been grifting all this time, but I think he also believed his own balderdash.