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Herman Cain and the Death of the Political Pro

Karl Rove doesn't think Herman Cain stands a chance of being POTUS. Bush's number one consigliere said as much on Fox Thursday night.

But is he right? I sure don't know, but I certainly have a suspicion why Karl thinks what he does. The Herman Cain candidacy is a direct threat to his occupation. Rove -- arguably the reigning monarch of political pros -- went on to register his disapproval that Cain was wandering around Godforsaken places like Tennessee flogging his book, when any serious candidate should be pressing the flesh where it counts -- to wit, Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

Worse yet, the candidate isn't raising any money (or not enough to have flashing neon signs that say "9...9...9..." like Burma-Shave along every highway in America -- not that we have to be reminded).

Now I have no beef with Rove. In fact, I rather like him, having interviewed him for PJTV. But it's obvious that times have changed and that Herman Cain is running a very canny media campaign virtually all by himself. Yes, I know he has a staff, but you do get the sense this man is his own thing, which is part of the tightrope walking fun. Can he make it to the other side -- Pennsylvania Avenue -- without falling? Whatever the case, Rove and others like him (the sorry David Axelrod, the Carville-Matalin duo, etc.) are in danger of becoming, if not extinct, at least more marginal than previously assumed.

Here's another data point: A couple of months back, Newt Gingrich's entire campaign staff -- including Dave Carney, the putative "next Karl Rove" -- split and decamped for Texas, soon to join Rick Perry's campaign. What happened? Today Gingrich is rising in the polls -- apparently on the strength of his debate performances -- and Perry, who started strong, is, at least for now, in trouble.

Again, I have no beef with Carney. I've met him too and he seems to be a fine fellow. Quite bright.

So what's going on here? The more powerful the political pros, the worse the campaign? Or is it really about the candidate in our non-stop media world? I tend to think it's the latter. Given the amount of coverage they all get, it's hard to imagine they need help in getting exposure. Maybe they need help in getting a little anonymity. (That's particularly true in the current president's case.)