Dave Weigel at Slate has a deliciously painful account (link fixed) of a couple of days in the life of Herman Cain, "Tea Party leader" without portfolio in the aftermath of his failed presidential bid, attracting 150 or so to his events, including some interesting comparisons with the still-running (did you know that?) Newt Gingrich:
Quitting the presidential race worked out brilliantly for Cain. Contrast his life with that of Newt Gingrich, still technically running for president. Cain now heads three organizations, with loosely defined goals—Cain Connections, Cain Solutions, and the Herman Cain Foundation. At this reception, he will announce a video channel called CTV. Its flagship show, confusingly enough will be called Cain TV. A short preview shows the host, a beefy joke writer named Rodney Lee Conover, mocking the life and loves of Sandra Fluke as a cartoon of the birth-control advocate sprawls lazily and lustily on a dorm room bed.
It compares awfully well to the no-end-in-sight tragedy that is Newt 2012. When he left Congress, Gingrich started founding think tanks and holding conferences that people actually showed up to—the strategy that Cain is Xeroxing. Those think tanks, now Newt-less, are shutting down. Running for president doesn't give Gingrich space in the media to share his grand ideas. It gets him headlines about being bit by penguins. The life of the professional has-been is sweeter than the life of the has-been candidate.
Cain tells Weigel he isn't discouraged by the small crowds he can draw at his recent D.C.-area events:
"Here's what was accomplished," says Cain, referring to the day's rally. "This nucleus of people are gonna be part of the army we're building to take the message back to their groups. A lot of them were leaders from various groups. What we accomplished was, we brought a lot of Tea Party citizen leaders together, even if their members weren't here."
When tallying up the size of the crowd, Cain tells me to be sure to "count everybody that was sitting in the shaded trees and everything." Was he disappointed by all the people who didn't turn up?
"No, I'm not disappointed. For one thing, they might be trying to finish their taxes."
They might be!
Ron Paul, by the way, is regularly drawing multiple thousands at college campuses these days.
Nick Gillespie from earlier today on some better Tea Party news than them desultorily half-filling Cain rallies: challenging Dick Lugar. Jim Antle in American Conservative has a nuanced take on Tea Party fecklessness in the 2012 elections.