Here’s the Herminator

For those of us still learning about Herman Cain:

You may have heard that Herman Cain, the former chief of Godfather’s Pizza, has become the latest in a list of peculiar front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination. Perhaps the Tea Party wing is just expressing its hostility toward Mitt Romney. Perhaps there’s just something peculiar about the Tea Party.

There are a few hints that the entire Herman Cain presidential experience is more about promoting The Herminator than in actually getting elected to anything. They would include the fact that he does not seem to have developed any actual organization and that instead of attempting to rectify this problem, he’s spending most of his time on book-promotion tours of states that are not planning on having primaries any time in the near future.

But show some respect. None of us are ahead in the presidential primary polls with a best-selling book about our journey to be the C.E.O. of Self. Stop sniffing at the fact that Cain’s chief economic adviser works at the Wells Fargo office in Pepper Pike, Ohio. Take the guy seriously.

Which I am trying to do, in matters beyond the ever-fascinating 9-9-9 tax plan.

For instance, on the matter of immigration, Cain says that he thinks it would be a great idea to build an alligator-filled moat between the United States and Mexico. (“And make it a real big moat.”) So, in the spirit of political fact-checking, I called an expert, Frank Mazzotti of the University of Florida, who said that the cost of keeping the alligators alive in that climate “would be astronomical.” If there turned out to be a spot along the border where the alligators were comfortable, Mazzotti said, they could escape, multiply and create “all sorts of economic problems.” Not to mention the danger to household pets.

On this one policy matter alone, we are talking about a mammoth drain on the national budget, plus a lot of endangered Arizona Chihuahuas. The Herminator’s got a lot of explaining to do.

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