Where there's smoke…


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A recent Herman Cain (known as The Mark by his fellow Republican presidential aspirants) political ad has the entire world buzzing.

Well, at least that part of the world that pays attention to political ads. Which, we might note, considers itself to be the entire world.

There's actually not all that much remarkable about the ad, which features Cain chief of staff Mark Block, until the end, when Block takes a hit off a cigarette and blows smoke at the camera.


Yes, Virginia. And there is a Santa Claus, too. (Now go back to growing tobacco, because, apparently, you have at least one customer left.)

The Cain ad went viral on the Internet, naturally. But then, a video of a border collie tricked out as a T-rex would go viral on the Internet, too.

And the ad set the Chattering Class to, well, chattering. Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post thought the ad was "accidentally brilliant." The New York Times' Frank Bruni brooded about pessimism. Oh, and pizzas.

Just thinking about pizzas makes me pessimistic. But, oh, well.

Me? I thought the ad nicely coincided with Halloween season, which seems to grow longer and longer each year. You notice? Pretty soon, we'll have Halloween cards and Halloween flowers chocolates for your girl, and you'll have to dress nice and take her out to a real restaurant (that's one in which you actually sit down) for dinner and remember not to burp.

Of course, the rise of Herman Cain also seems to have coincided with Halloween season, but that's probably just coincidence.

But that the Cain ad is considered to be the cutting edge in imagination by many in the Chattering Class demonstrates that the unemployment rate in imagination is surging far ahead of the unemployment rate as a whole.

But that's probably been true since evolution created Homo sapiens as a parlor trick during a boring afternoon on the African savannah.

One gets the impression that if evolution had it to do all over again, it would just create an app instead.

And that app would undoubtedly create the rise of Herman Cain, and we'd be exactly where we are today. Is that pessimistic?

The sight of Cain atop the GOP race (well, OK, in a virtual tie with Mitt Romney, who is famous mostly for how he handles the family's pet dog) is remarkable, especially given that his much-ballyhooed 9-9-9 tax plan would raise taxes for most Americans (84 percent).

But as Bruni of the Times cautions us, the same poll that puts Cain on top also shows that 60 percent of Republicans aren't paying attention to the caucus/primary race and 80 percent believe it's too early to choose a candidate.

Finally, some sense on the Republican side of things. We've been waiting. Though not exactly with bated breath, because had we bated our breath (which is kind of like baiting a fish hook but different, in an app sort of way), we'd have suffocated long ago.

Which is good news for Rick Perry — maybe. (Remember him? Me, neither.) Perry came out with his much-ballyhooed flat-tax plan last week, but that was immediately smoked-out by Cain's smoking ad.

Probably just as well. Perry's flat tax is pretty much the same as Steve Forbes' flat tax in 1996 and 2000, when Forbes ran for the Republican presidential nomination. (You remember that, of course.)

(Me, neither.)

Forbes, by the way, immediately lauded Perry's flat-tax plan, so maybe there's no good news for Perry.

Oh, well.

Where's there's smoke, as they say, there's ire.

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