A few months ago, I undertook a dangerous mission for the magazine, one that could well have resulted in some post-traumatic stress. It involved reading all the latest books from the then-candidates and possible candidates, including Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee (the result was this article). Unfortunately, Herman Cain was not yet running, nor had he produced the inspiring tome that is his latest, This is Herman Cain! (note to self: Make sure next book has exclamation point in title!), so I didn't get the chance to read it. But Michelle Cottle did, and what she found was pretty alarming. Here's the lead of her piece in the Daily Beast:
Raise your hand if you have a favorite number.
Keep it raised if you believe this number to be your "lucky" number.
Now keep it up only if you think this number has a literal, meaningful, ongoing impact on your life.
Finally, if your hand is still up, ask yourself this: If you were running for president and wrote a campaign book, would you devote an entire chapter to this number, explaining how its frequent appearance in your life signals that you are meant to win and explaining that, though you are "not a devout numerologist," this number clearly keeps popping up "more than coincidentally"?
If that hand is still raised, it probably means that you are Herman Cain. (Hi, Herman!)
The number, in case you're wondering, is 45. You see, Cain was born in 1945, and "45 keeps on popping up as I go about the business of being elected—you guessed it—as the forty-fifth president of the United States of America." And yes, 4 plus 5 is 9, as in 9-9-9. When he says it's "more than coincidentally," what exactly does he mean? Is God sending all these 45's Herman's way, and to what end? Or perhaps it's a mischievous fairy who's behind it? Or maybe a demon! I realize that it's too much to ask that the people who want to be the leader of this great nation of ours not be advocates of magical thinking of one sort or another. Millions of Americans, after all, read their horoscopes every day and actually believe that the position of the stars at this time of year determines whether they'll reconnect with an old friend or come into money. It's going to be an awfully long time before we elect a president who does not believe that our world is controlled by an all-powerful being who responds to our entreaties (speaking of which, how's that praying for rain working out, Governor Perry?). But if a presidential candidate said that during his time in office, he'd make decisions by slaughtering a goat in the Oval Office then reading the messages contained within its entrails, you'd probably say that this was not someone who should be given the nuclear launch codes. Well that is not one iota less insane than believing that your life is influenced by the recurrence of a number. One more thing: When was the last time a Democratic presidential candidate became the front-runner despite being demonstrably crazy? Well, the press told us Howard Dean was crazy in 2004. Why was that again? Oh yeah -- because he thought the Iraq war was a bad idea. Man, what a nut.