Herman Cain: The New Front-Runner

Herman Cain is entering the American consciousness at a time when ordinary people are more afraid of the future than at any juncture within memory. We Americans are searching for someone to fill the leadership vacuum left by an adolescent gadabout president who believes leadership is nothing more than giving speeches, perennial fundraising, politicking, and playing golf every waking moment in between. Except for the brief moments, when Obama’s Astroturf protesters show up “coincidentally” to make his points, the community organizer in chief can’t seem to organize his way out of a wet paper bag.

Yes, America is leaderless. And Americans know it.

Morgan Freeman seems to think it’s all a movie and his president thinks it’s a game. “I’ve got game,” Barack Obama told Democrats a couple of years ago, but “game” doesn’t fill the real shoes of the real presidency. And when there’s no real grown-up president there, things tend to go down the chute in a great big hurry. That would happen whether the president off playing games was black, white, or purple. It’s just a fact of life. Americans know this and are not the least bit fooled with all the race-baiting hustlers on the airwaves.

This country elected an eternal adolescent in a man’s body. Where’s the president? Oh, he’s off playing on the Vineyard. Where’s the president? Oh, it’s cold in D.C., so he must be off sunning in Hawaii. Where’s the president? It’s Sunday, so he must be playing golf. Where’s the president? It’s a boring weeknight, so he must be having a soiree with movie stars and musicians. I heard it was Paul McCartney, or is it Stevie Wonder this week? Where’s the president? Oh, he’s on The View, or is it the late night show? Honestly, I cannot keep track of this man-child’s social schedule.

Play. Play. Play. While the nation suffers.

Enter Herman Cain, the Republican backbencher who is setting the nominating race on its ear, confounding the oddsmakers of all stripes, and winning voters over one hard-fought day at a time.

Mr. Cain is having an extraordinary effect on all those who see him speak. Pollsters have been quite astonished with Mr. Cain’s effect on people, noting time after time Cain’s ability to win voter confidence in the span of a single debate, especially when he is not even given much opportunity to talk.

Herman Cain’s fatherly presence is so powerful that it literally sucks all the air out of the room in which he stands. Cain emanates fatherly wisdom.

One simply cannot deny Cain’s archetypal appeal as the good, wise, strong, loving-but-firm father.

And it’s down-to-the-marrow genuine. Cain is not putting on airs or going around talking down to voters like he is the one who thinks of himself as a national father figure come on the scene to take charge. It’s the people he encounters who have this sense about him. The man inspires confidence just by walking in a room. Really, is it now any wonder how Cain motivated his employees and turned failing businesses into sterling successes?

Cain demonstrates in his every utterance a deep-down respect for this country and its citizens. For the recent tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Herman Cain didn’t try to politicize the moment or grab an ounce of attention for himself. Instead, he put country over his candidacy and made the most heart-rending video I’ve ever seen, while singing “America the Beautiful” in the background. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried.

Cain’s respect for America, which he emits like a potent aura everywhere he goes, comes back to him ten-fold from the people. It’s as though he had sowed it as a fertile seed in his listeners’ hearts and stands humbly ready to receive the harvest and plow it right back into America’s soil. When one listens to Herman Cain, one has the sense that things actually might have a chance of turning around if we all work hard enough and steady enough and stop playing our childish political games.

Whatever Herman Cain has got, it is something big. Zogby just released its latest polling showing Herman Cain in a surge worthy of shock-value:

In news sure to inject shock and awe into the Republican political primary season, a Zogby poll released Thursday showed Herman Cain leading the Republican field, topping former front-runner Mitt Romney by an astonishing 20 points. Cain would also narrowly edge out Obama in a general election, the poll found, by a 46-44 margin.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, would lose by a point to the president, 40 percent to 41 percent. Texas governor Rick Perry, who has slipped in the polls of late, would lose to the president 45 percent to 40 percent.

The poll found that 38 percent of Republican primary voters said they would vote for Cain if the primary were held today. Eighteen percent said they would throw their support to Romney, while 12 percent each said they would vote for Perry and Texas congressman Ron Paul. No other candidate attracted double-digit support.

Writing as a Georgian and a former civil rights fighter, it’s hard for me to remain purely objective when it comes to Herman Cain’s candidacy. My heart swells every time I hear him speak. There are days when I practically get weak-kneed just imagining a debate between him and Barack Obama. I’ve got a deep-down feeling that Obama would leave that debate stage feeling as though he had just had a very painful woodshed experience with a mature father wielding a rhetorical paddle.

That’s just me, of course. But from the looks of the way this is going, a whole lot of American voters are sensing the same thing – or something very close to it.