Herman Cain raises some echoes of things we’ve seen before.
He reminds me of Ross Perot. The same outsider stance. The same businessman, anti-Washington background. His 999 plan reminds me of something that Perot might have come up with. But unlike Mr. Perot, Mr. Cain has charm, he has a sense of humor, he seems to have political rationality, and he seems not to be a megalomaniac. Perhaps most importantly, he is running as a Republican, which means he has a meaningful chance to actually win.
He reminds me of Reagan. A crowd-pleasing speaker who can get the base of the party on its feet and clapping. Again, a sense of humor, and a lack of apparent egotism. He is like the Reagan of the mid-60s, a person who is leaving a successful career in another field to get into politics, though of course he is doing so much later in life. Also, like Reagan, he does not sweat the small stuff, which will drive wonks of all stripes, and the MSM, into hysteria.
He reminds me of Clarence Thomas. He does not remind me of our two prior serious Black candidates for president, Mr. Obama and Rev. Jackson. He carries his African American heritage with dignity, and he is forthright about the hardships he and his family suffered. But he does not talk in terms of grievance or injustice, but of pride, progress and opportunity.
He reminds me of Wendell Willkie, a candidate from outside the mainstream of the GOP, with a business background, who surprised the Party machine and captured the nomination as the champion to drive the liberal-progressive monster from the White House. If the Germans had not overrun Western Europe in 1940, turning the election into a foreign policy election, Willkie would have had a good chance to beat FDR. The odds of 2012 being a foreign policy election are poor, unless Mr. Obama initiates open warfare with Iran.
Still, when you add it all up, the answer is no, this really is a brand new movie. We have not seen this movie yet.
Herman Cain is mostly different from all the earlier movies.
The ad with the guy smoking is a curve ball. Who does it appeal to? What does it mean? (Stop it at 40 seconds: Is that a joint?) What are we to make of this? It is funny, though.
We will likely see more surprises.
So, while my guess is that Mitt Romney will carry all before him, I would not bet on it, not yet.