That's the question establishment Republicans should ask themselves. Instead of being hidebound to a set of approved candidates, the usual cast of characters, why don't we give serious consideration to this man?
Here's my position: I think we Republicans are in a good position. Right now, we have a deep bench. Personally, I can be perfectly happy with either Mitt Romney, Rick Perry or Herman Cain. Hand me the button, I will wear it with pride. Any of them would be a dramatic improvement. If any of them ends up the candidate, I will be happy.
But this is about Herman Cain.
I'm starting to think he's not only a competent candidate, he may be the best candidate, and he may have the best chance of winning.
First, on his landslide victory at Saturday's Florida straw poll. He netted almost 40 percent of the vote in a crowded field, more than doubling Perry and Romney, and out drawing the two of them combined.
The anchors on the evening news -- the spokesmen for the Democratic Party -- said that Saturday's results indicated that Republicans aren't happy with their choices. They said the results indicate that Republicans want somebody else to get into the race.
What a crock.
What the results indicate is that Republicans -- in Florida at least -- really, really like Herman Cain. He wasn't a protest vote, he was a vote.
They expressed their desire. Theoretically, in a society like ours, we respect that desire. And the idea that somebody else should get in the race, that's code for "Chris Christie, please come soon."
And the Democrats would like that.
Because Chris Christie is beatable. Essentially, he's a fatter Rick Perry, without the cowboy boots and the stupid collars on his shirt.
But Chris Christie is not a threat to Barack Obama.
Herman Cain, on the other hand, is.
In fact, you could argue that Herman Cain is the biggest threat Barack Obama could face.
Here's how I figure.
Barack Obama has very few routes to electoral success. When you sit down and start doing the math, unless he has a dramatic reversal of fortunes, he's burned too many bridges, much of his electoral support is permanently lost. It turns out that Barack Obama's only hope for re-election is to galvanize his two core constituencies -- blacks and liberals. Those voters, because of race or philosophy, closely identify with Barack Obama and they have in the past shown high levels of excitability and turnout.
If Obama can electrify liberals and blacks, he mathematically gets close to having enough support to be re-elected. If he doesn't, he doesn't.
So let's look at how the various GOP frontrunners threaten Obama's coalition.
First of all, Rick Perry takes zero votes from Obama. The two gentlemen simply do not appeal to the same voters. They stand, thankfully, for different things.
So, Rick Perry is no threat to the liberal-black Obama core.
How about Mitt Romney.
He fares slightly better. Romney used to be a liberal, until he decided to be a conservative, and some liberals and moderates will find him acceptable and appealing. Mitt Romney could peel a few votes away from disaffected Barack Obama supporters.
Now, Herman Cain.
That makes all the difference in the world, in this calculation. I know nobody is supposed to discuss it, but it's dishonest not to.
Herman Cain would divide the black vote. Not in half, or anywhere near half. Maybe 70-30 or 80-20. How? By qualifying under the race loyalty that seems to kick in with blacks and Barack Obama, and by appealing to the significant portion of African-Americans who share his -- Herman Cain's -- values and beliefs. His spirit of common-sense self-reliance stands the potential to resonate with many blacks who heard the same truths taught by their parents and pastors.
If Herman Cain were to take 20 percent of the black vote, there is no mathematical way that Barack Obama could win.
And that counts for something.
That's the tactics of the situation.
The principle is even clearer. And that is this: Herman Cain would be an excellent president. As a person, he has the character, insight, wisdom and experience to lead this nation and people.