Herman Cain Drops Out ... Weeks After It Mattered

He leaves as he entered: a sideshow.

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In the end, Herman Cain left the presidential race as he entered it—more a sideshow than a contender.

And he wrapped up his never quite believable run in characteristically bizarre fashion.He closed the effort at the official opening of his campaign headquarters. He wore sunglasses, giving a visual queue of being apart from the people even as he declared himself one of them. He announced a campaign exit website which (though the domain was registered on July 21) was not yet live. To sum up, he quoted Pokémon. You cannot make this stuff up.

[Check out political cartoons about the 2012 GOP field.]

It’s been almost a month since the Cain boomlet started venting its hot air. As of November 10 (a full week and a half after allegations first surfaced that Cain had sexually harassed subordinates at the National Restaurant Association), according to Real Clear Politics’s average of polls, Cain stood atop the field with 25.2 percent. The intervening weeks have brought a steady Cain deflation as the wandering, anti-Romney chunk of the GOP electorate moved on to Newt-ier pastures. He leaves with only a relatively small number of supporters to now scatter to other campaigns.

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So Cain drops out (“suspending my campaign” is Washington-ese for “quitting in a way that lets me collect federal matching funds”) months before he would have to but weeks after it mattered.

Which is fine because it allowed us to enjoy what Jim Fallows aptly termed the “nuthouse panache” of Cain’s fare-the-well. He will not go away and he will not be silenced, Cain declared. Instead he’s joining the cacophony of the Web—he may not go away, but he will assuredly fade away, at least until he lands a Fox News gig. NRO’s Jim Geraghty summed it up well: “Remember, everyone, he never lied to you about any of the women, but he’s leaving the race anyway. Now please send him money via the web.”

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The only question left isn’t who he’ll endorse (it will get monster coverage but does anyone really think it will matter?) but what speaking slot he’ll get at the Republican national convention. Assuming Romney is the nominee, will he give him something in prime time in order to whip the faithful into a frenzy?

In the mean time, by God, we'll miss him at the Donald Trump/Newsmax debate.

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