Cain, a former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, was not a deep thinker or a particularly distinguished leader, yet he was—briefly—the rising star in the GOP firmament.
Some answers to the mystery of Herman Cain turned up this week in a prescient review of his book. This is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House, by Michael Tomasky, published in the December 22 edition of The New York Review of Books.
One of Cain's favorite phrases, Tomasky writes, is "CEO of Self." That was (and still is) Cain's modus operandi, as in this quote from the book:
Again, seeing myself as CEO of Self, I was determined not to fall into a comfort zone of letting other people, no matter how competent and well-meaning, make the decisions for me.In other words, Tomasky makes clear, Cain was (is) so confident in his own power and such a true believer in his own destiny that success—the White House!—was inevitable. Thus, Tomasky concludes, Cain had no "ground operation in New Hampshire because true CEOs of Self don't need things like ground operations. They exert their will and they win."
As a proud conservative, Cain explains his success in the private sector as the result of hard work. Tomasky correctly notes, however, that this is hardly a conservative view. Indeed, he writes, it applies to Barack Obama, Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey.
Beyond Cain's lack of self-awareness and huge gaps in his knowledge of public affairs, Tomasky also discovered another major weakness in Cain's character: vanity.
After reading Cain's book, Tomasky concludes the candidate was so convinced of the inevitability of his presidential success that he simply had to seal the deal.
Tomasky, recall, wrote this well before the most recent Cain scandal, charges by an Atlanta woman of a 13-year affair with the candidate. That report, along with several earlier charges of sexual harassment, put the final nails in Cain's coffin.
Unfortunately for Cain, his vanity long ago outstripped his ability. He was never as smart or as competent as he thought he was.