Thanks to the horrendous news today the Republican Party finds itself at wit's end. If voters believe the account given by Sharon Bialek today, they cannot possibly want Herman Cain as President.
Yet the same forces that drove Cain to lead in the polls will continue to undermine Mitt Romney. Hard conservatives do not accept Romney as one of their own. They see him as quite willing to become a Northeast moderate, even a liberal. They do not believe what happened in Massachusetts will stay in Massachusetts.
They suspect he did what he did there once ensconced in Washington, that surrounded by the country's east coast political establishment he will become part of it. He will be in Washington, D.C. what he was in Boston, Mass.
So who's that leave, if Cain combusts and Romney remains Romney, who will be the go-to Republican?
This is the problem. As I just said, the forces that led conservatives to Cain, their paramount rejection of Mitt Romney, remains in effect. They still need a nominee. Having seen Trump come and go, Bachman rise and fall, Perry fly without any apparent bearings, they're stuck with a bare cupboard.
Not quite, of course. I've been watching Newt Gingrich move into position. His camaraderie with Herman Cain in the weekend Texas debate showed he's hoping to benefit when his Atlanta folds his tent. He, Newt, will get the Cain backers because he has been kind to him, been a warm associate of his.
But can the Republicans run a thrice-married guy who was pushed from the Speakership as their prime candidate out of 300 million people? Could this be where it ends, with conservatives voting for Newt Gingrich out of base antipathy toward Mitt Romney? I didn't think it would ever come to Newt. Little did I know that he would end up being, for the American right, the only game in town.
Again, the thought that the man in the White House could he possesses - in addition to charisma - that other political intangible: good ‘ole fashioned luck.
Speaking of charisma, tomorrow I'll be in San Francisco about my book "Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero," to the Jewish Community Center in the morning and the Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley in the evening.