How I wish I could have heard this in person! At a Tea Party rally in west Tennessee, Herman Cain creatively compensated for the temporary loss of his sound system — and, not surprisingly, the crowd loved it:
Cain stands awkwardly for a few moments then suddenly begins to sing. Slowly at first but gaining in speed, he belts out “Impossible Dream” in the rich baritone he’s honed in church choir.
“You know, when it’s your rally, you can do what you want to do!” Cain says as he finishes with a raucous laugh. The 500 or so supporters who have jammed the strip mall parking lot to hear the Republican Party’s newest star speak roar their approval.
Momentum restored, Cain launches into a pitch for his signature 9-9-9 tax plan, and the crowd is right there with him, chanting 9-9-9 along with the Georgia businessman. The plan would scrap the current tax code and replace it with a 9 percent tax on personal income and corporations as well as a new 9 percent national sales tax.
Has the song run through his head as an anthem for his campaign? Or was it really the spur-of-a-moment inspiration? Either way, this anecdote powerfully illustrates Cain’s principles in practice. He touts a can-do approach to obstacles, creativity, resourcefulness and an innovative imagination. When the generator supplying his speakers powered down, Cain could have stood idly by, waiting for the power generator to restart. That’s what I bet the truly-do-nothing Sen. Harry Reid would have done. (Yesterday marked 900 days since the Senate last passed a budget!) Cain could have continued to shout into a dead microphone, repeatedly attempting a futile solution. That’s what President Obama would have done. (He’s still shilling for the totally politically motivated American Jobs Act!) But he didn’t. Instead, he musically expressed his willingness to march into hell for a heavenly cause.
Is this all an extrapolation? Yes. It was just a campaign trail incident and doesn’t really prove he’d be a solid president. But I insist it still matters. Usually, “campaign trail incidents” consist of inopportune corndog consumption, BBQ bashing, that sort of thing. Or they consist of carefully constructed photo ops and banal talking points. In comparison to a president whose First Lady coordinates Target shopping expeditions to appear ordinary, Cain just is refreshingly real. And what the nation needs now is a leader, someone who reminds us of what makes America great. I’ve never felt worse about our country after hearing Cain speak. Can’t say the same about Obama, whose criticisms of our “soft” country often leave me feeling paltry.
Sure, he’s still a long-shot candidate. Even as a first-tier contender, he so far has only pulled in second-tier funds. Still, no matter what happens with his campaign, I can’t help thinking … “The world will be better for this, that one man, scorned and covered with scars, still strove, with his last ounce of courage … ”
What’s clear: Cain will continue to strive. We’ll have to decide what the reward for his striving will be. But what if? What if we did elect a president with nothing but real world experience? Would that be foolishness? Is it foolish to believe in a dream?