Being there, there


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This year, NPR cheerily informs us, the U.S. Air Force will train more drone pilots than fighter pilots and bomber pilots combined.

I'm not sure how to digest that news, because Herman Cain is gone, and that makes me sad.

Well, yes, you're right — Herman Cain is still on this Earth, so far as we know, and in that sense, he's not gone. There is some there there, wherever there might be. (I'm betting against Gertrude Stein's Oakland.)

But Cain is gone, at least for now, from the Republican presidential-nomination race (which gets serious in Iowa four weeks from today), and that leaves a gaping entertainment gap in the GOP campaign.

I mean, whatever else Willard "My first name is Mitt" Romney is, he's associated with "entertaining" about as often as China is associated with fair labor practices.

Cain is gone, of course, because of allegations from some women who say some of his practices were — how to put this delicately — not quite fair.

Cain, as is everybody else, innocent until proven, etc. Just as that guy who allegedly attacked an Iowa City police sergeant is innocent until proven, etc. Good luck finding an unbiased jury in Iowa City on that one.

(Though you gotta admit, showing up shirtless in a restaurant with security cameras three minutes after the alleged incident is perhaps not the most Einsteinian decision to make.)

So, Herman Cain perhaps cannot keep his hands off you know where and also can't keep his you know what you know where, proving, if nothing else, there is some where there. (Who's afraid of Gertrude Stein?)

But now the Hermanator (as the New York Times' Maureen Dowd once called him) is off our radar screens (actually, mine is collecting dust in a corner, because I once told it everybody should collect something), and we're left with Newt "I am not a lobbyist" Gingrich and Mitt "Don't ever call me Willard, even though my parents did — my father was brainwashed, after all."

It's like watching dough rise.

(Maybe Newt could resort to using his full first name, Newton. Even if it doesn't lend his remarks some gravitas, it might give them some gravity. As an added bonus, then we wouldn't mix him up with the Geico gecko.)

My favorite Herman Cain moment, if I have to pick just one, came back in the Middle Ages, maybe September or August — but who can tell when it comes to the Middle Ages?

Standard & Poor — remember those geniuses? — had just lowered its bond rating for the United States, and Cain, drawing on his vast business experience, told an audience that this meant doom, because nobody would buy U.S. Treasury bonds anymore.

On that day, U.S. Treasury bonds set a record for the number of buyers (and thus, set a record for low interest rate).

Apparently, vast business experience can only take you so far.

Take Standard & Poor, for instance (known affectionately as S&P, because we absolutely must abbreviate everything. It's in the Constitution or something.)

Back in the days before the Middle Ages, when the economy was humming along (Remember? Me, neither.), S&P gave the mortgage-backed securities its highest rating, AAA.

Those would be the same securities that Warren Buffett labeled economic weapons of mass destruction. So S&P is always right, right?

Yeah, right. And Dewey beat Truman, George Washington chopped down the apple tree, and the Red Sox won the 1986 World Series when Bill Buckner cleanly fielded Mookie Wilson's sharp grounder and beat him to first for the final out. (Red Sox pitcher Bob Stanley, known as the Stanley Steamer, is still desperately churning his way to first all these 25 years later.)

Maybe Gertrude Stein was right about there. Being there.

Or not.

There, there. It's OK.

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