Posted on | December 5, 2011 | 66 Comments
My 12-year-old son Jefferson with Herman Cain, July 17, 2011.
Journalism is a cynical racket and if you can’t dismiss tragedy and suffering with a sarcastic joke, you don’t belong in a newsroom.
Famine and wars, airplane crashes, disease, murder — horrible stuff happens to people every day, and your job is to turn it into that commodity called “news.” You’re not paid to give a damn about the human beings whose lives are blighted or destroyed by these disasters.
And most of the time, you don’t give a damn. Because you can’t, really.
You’d go nuts if you ever stopped to think — much less care — about the unspeakable misery involved in so much of what we call “news.”
Over the past several days, I’ve made a lot of phone calls and talked to a lot of people who joined me aboard that wild ride called the “Cain Train.” My thought was to write the definitive post-mortem on the campaign, to analyze this disaster based on all I’ve seen and heard over the past year. But I didn’t write that article, and there’s a reason why.
You see, it’s become a family tradition that, every year, Daddy takes his sons out to buy The Best Christmas Tree Ever. For all my personal and professional failures — “Not Good Enough for BlogCon” — I have an unbroken streak of success at doing this one thing. Every year, Daddy goes to get the tree and every year when I bring it home, the entire family agrees that this is The Best Christmas Tree Ever.
So about 7 p.m., instead of transcribing audio and doing that definitive analytical post-mortem on the Cain campaign I’d meant to write, my boys and I went off to find The Best Christmas Tree Ever. Of course, we succeeded, but while we were on our quest (with my 19-year-old son Bob at the wheel), I did manage to do a couple of interviews with my cell phone and handy digital recorder.
By the time we got back home, it was 9 o’clock — my wife said, “Wow! It really is The Best Christmas Tree Ever!” — and my American Spectator deadline was just three hours away. So I had to work fast and, after I started writing, the story took a detour that surprised even me:
Mike Rogers was on board what became known as the Cain Train even before the locomotive left the station. A computer systems engineer who lives in New Hampshire, Rogers first heard Herman Cain speak at an Americans for Prosperity conference in 2009, and immediately believed the Georgia businessman should be the next President of the United States. Rogers and his wife gave the maximum legal contribution to Cain’s presidential exploratory committee before the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO officially announced his Republican primary candidacy in May.
“I was sitting in the front row for the announcement in Atlanta,” Rogers said Sunday, a day after Cain returned home to Atlanta to announce that he would suspend his campaign, which had soared to the top of the GOP field in early October but was eventually derailed by accusations of sexual misconduct that the 65-year-old candidate has insisted are false and politically motivated. In announcing his exit from the campaign trail, Cain said he was moving from “Plan A” — winning the White House in 2012 — to “Plan B,” an issues-advocacy website, but Saturday was definitely the end of the dream that Rogers and thousands of other self-declared “Cainiacs” had dreamed for months.
“Plan B is just face-saving,” Rogers said. “Unless he’s able to clear his name and get back in, or clear his name and be picked as the [vice-presidential running mate] for somebody, essentially his best bet is to take his raised profile and get back on the radio, maybe a little bit of TV, and push his policies. But really, it’s not going to have the same force as being in the field shaping the debate.”
Unlike the TV talking heads, print pundits and late-night comedians who spent the past five weeks reporting, analyzing or mocking each new accusation against Cain, it’s not easy for true believers like Rogers to move on. The media immediately turned their attention to speculating about which of the remaining Republican candidates will benefit most from Cain’s painful encounter with the politics of personal destruction, while the dreamers awoke to life without a dream. . . . .
You really should read the whole thing. Some words you write with tears in your eyes, but they don’t pay extra for that. So I suppose I’ll be content with knowing I got The Best Christmas Tree Ever — again!