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Oct 27 2011

Herman Cain and Numerology

The more we learn about Herman Cain, the weirder the story gets. Not only does he think that the number 45 has some special, magic role in his life — he actually devoted an entire chapter in his campaign book about that number’s transcendent meaning.

As Cain enjoys his tour as the GOP’s Anyone-But-Mitt of the moment—and reaps the consequent saturation media—one can’t help but wonder when the candidate’s peculiar obsession with supernatural signs and signals is going to become a subject of interest.

In Chapter Nine of This Is Herman Cain—entitled “‘Forty-Five’—A Special Number,” Cain notes that his “conception, gestation, and birth all occurred within” the year 1945 (true of pretty much anyone born in the last three months of that year). He then launches into a detailed account of how “45 keeps on popping up as I go about the business of being elected—you guessed it—as the forty-fifth president of the United States of America.”

Meaningful signposts include events both past (in 1945, Reader’s Digest published a version of Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, which Cain ran across last year and loved) and future (in 2013, the year the 45th president will take office, Cain and his wife will celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.)

In some cases the digits 4 and 5 are only part of a figure, like the times when one of Cain’s weekly commentaries ran to 645 words or when the final leg of a campaign trip took place on Flight 1045 traveling at 45,000 feet. At times the 45 in question is only tangentially related to Cain, as when he cites a Las Vegas campaign event where he met a couple celebrating their 45th anniversary. And in one case, the key moment ultimately doesn’t have anything to do with 45 at all: at an early strategy meeting, Cain and two aides believed they were seated at table 45 in a restaurant, only to be told that there were only 43 tables total. Regardless, it all adds up to something big for Cain.

It’s not just the casual numerology. Cain sees divine messages everywhere: His father’s dying while Herman was attending his own farewell party at Pillsbury; Cain’s assistant going to church to pray for him before a debate and finding a prayer card with his name already written on it; and, of course, Cain’s battle with colon and liver cancer a few years back, the doctor named “Lord,” the hospital orientation staffer named “Grace,” the surgical incision shaped like a “J” for Jesus.

The last thing we need is a leader who reads this kind of irrational meaning into mundane coincidences.

32 comments

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  1. 1
    Walton

    Yeah… I’m getting the impression that the biggest problem with Herman Cain is that he just isn’t very bright, and doesn’t have a clue how to campaign for political office. His incoherent blithering about abortion, and his back-of-a-napkin tax plan, reveal that he’s just making this shit up as he goes along. I don’t have a clue why his corporate backers thought he was a good candidate to promote.

  2. 2
    Abby Normal

    Ooooo, spooky… that this is a contender for President of the United States.

  3. 3
    Randomfactor

    Yeah, nobody who’s a blithering idiot and who follows tax plans written on cocktail napkins could EVER be elected president.

    Thank the FSM.

  4. 4
    pHred

    Man – I wish that meant that he would go away after Halloween was over. I knew he was nuts, but I had no idea he was this nuts.

  5. 5
    roggg

    Dear god…if you do in fact exist please please PLEASE let Cain win the GOP nomination. That would be the best campaign ever!

  6. 6
    bobcarroll

    We should expect a future entry in his 45 fantasy: “The time I was nearly elected 45th president of the US, but the GOP let me down.”

  7. 7
    anandine

    Yeah, it’s so much worse than having the first lady choose run her husband’s presidency by astrology.

  8. 8
    jufulu

    Of course he’s loony, the special number is really 42.

  9. 9
    Aquaria

    You know, in my family, someone noticed that about 80% of us were born on days of the month that are multiples of 3, and the most common multiple is 18.

    The difference between us and Cain? We laugh about what an interesting coincidence it is, but we don’t think it means anything. Sheesh.

  10. 10
    subbie

    Next year, I’ll be 51. 51-45=6. 6 is an upside down 9. 9=4+5. Coincidence? I think not! He should make me his running mate.

  11. 11
    richardelguru

    He’ll probably come 45th in the pols.
    Someone should direct him to a chapter on pareidolia.

  12. 12
    fifthdentist

    Wow, and, like, 45 is divisible by 9. It’s starting to make sense, man. It’s all fucking starting to make sense!
    I’m a little man, I’m a little man; he’s, he’s a great man. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas.
    That man has enlarged my mind …

  13. 13
    barbarienne

    So why is his tax plan 9/9/9? Shouldn’t he be pushing a 9/9/9/9/9 plan?

  14. 14
    jeevmon

    The number 45 did not work out so well for Michael Jordan, so it’s good to know that it’s working for someone.

  15. 15
    lordshipmayhem

    Just when I think the Republican Party has already scraped the bottom of the barrel in their search for candidates for the Presidency, they manage to find someone even loopier…

  16. 16
    fifthdentist

    You know what else? Ronald Reagan appeared in 45 Hollywood films.* All hail the anointed one, Herman Cain!

    * Not meant to be a factual statement.

  17. 17
    robb

    i wonder if his IQ is 45?

    from Wikipedia on 45:

    0 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 = 45!!11!!1!!!

    +45 is the telephone dialing code for Denmark!!11!!!1!

    I-45 is the designation for a US interstate highway in Texas!!!!!111!

  18. 18
    Bronze Dog

    Numerology from a somewhat prominent Republican presidential candidate.

    What’s next? A revered Republican president who consults astrologers? Why, that’d be absolutely silly!

  19. 19
    robnyny

    You know, in my family, someone noticed that about 80% of us were born on days of the month that are multiples of 3, and the most common multiple is 18.

    Oddly, in my family, three of the four of us were born in the week that follows my parents’ wedding date (and its anniversaries) by exactly nine months.

  20. 20
    Trebuchet

    One of Cain’s major “qualifications” seems to be his experience as a senior executive of a large corporation. As a former employee of a large corporation, I can say that in my experience the executives are almost universally morons. They get there by kissing butts and stabbing backs, not by being smart. With the said backs often being directly above the butts.

  21. 21
    gymm

    Oh GOODY!! i gets to tell my magic numbers story!!
    I was borned on March 26
    First spouse borned on August 21
    We got married on March 21
    Our wonderful child was borned …..AUGUST 21!!!!!!!!!

    and……….well…….nothing

    oh well

  22. 22
    jjgdenisrobert

    Doesn’t he know that Numerology is a tool of the Devil???

  23. 23
    bksea

    The “Flight 1045 traveling at 45,000 feet” may also be a load of crap. I believe commercial flights top out at 42,000 feet

  24. 24
    Big Boppa

    Hey….45 is also the average IQ of the typical Teabag/KochSucker.

    I don’t know about y’all but this numerology shit is really starting to creep me out.

  25. 25
    samanthajoy

    Hey, you remember the other day when you were telling me all about confirmation bias?

    I’ve been seeing examples of it *everywhere* since then!

  26. 26
    pinkboi

    I have to say in the business world, this kind of superstition is rampant. People obsess over patterns that aren’t real when involved with great uncertainty.

  27. 27
    Michael Heath

    As a former employee of a large corporation, I can say that in my experience the executives are almost universally morons.

    I have to say in the business world, this kind of superstition is rampant. People obsess over patterns that aren’t real when involved with great uncertainty.

    Both comments remind me of creationists describing evolution.

  28. 28
    kraut

    Hey, we Canucks are light years ahead of you.
    We had a prime minister who consulted his dead mother…

    “He kept secret his beliefs in spiritualism and use of mediums to stay in contact with departed associates and particularly with his mother, and allowed his intense spirituality to distort his understanding of Adolf Hitler.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Lyon_Mackenzie_King

  29. 29
    Aquaria

    Both comments remind me of creationists describing evolution.

    Your comment reminds me of that, actually.

    You haven’t known any of pinkboi’s bosses–have you?

    Did you know any of mine? Because I can assure you that at least 80% of the ones I’ve had were morons. Trust me–when you’ve been a secretary, worse, for a temp agency, you know how many bosses are morons, and just how stupid they can be. You know it better than anyone. And I’ve had some fucking morons for bosses.

    I still can’t get over the one who wondered aloud what half of 36 was, I told her 18, she said that can’t be right, how could I know that? Of course I couldn’t know that off the top of my head. I was only a secretary, and she had a college degree!!!1111!!!eleventyone!!!!111!!!!

    So she turned to her calculator to get the answer.

    She wasn’t any brighter at doing her job, trust me.

  30. 30
    Michael Heath


    As a former employee of a large corporation, I can say that in my experience the executives are almost universally morons.


    I have to say in the business world, this kind of superstition is rampant. People obsess over patterns that aren’t real when involved with great uncertainty.

    My earlier response:

    Both comments remind me of creationists describing evolution.

    Aquaria writes:

    Your comment reminds me of that, actually.

    You haven’t known any of pinkboi’s bosses–have you?

    Did you know any of mine? Because I can assure you that at least 80% of the ones I’ve had were morons. Trust me–when you’ve been a secretary, worse, for a temp agency, you know how many bosses are morons, and just how stupid they can be. You know it better than anyone. And I’ve had some fucking morons for bosses.

    I still can’t get over the one who wondered aloud what half of 36 was, I told her 18, she said that can’t be right, how could I know that? Of course I couldn’t know that off the top of my head. I was only a secretary, and she had a college degree!!!1111!!!eleventyone!!!!111!!!!

    Because I criticize two people asserting an entire population is representative of their own obviously personal biased observation? An observation that if true would have businesses in general utterly failing to create the type of returns on investment opposite of that we actually observe for private industry overall? Where you then fail by doing the exact same thing and assert your own personal and also obviously biased observation of a population which is also contra what we observe overall? Wow.

  31. 31
    DaveL

    One of Cain’s major “qualifications” seems to be his experience as a senior executive of a large corporation. As a former employee of a large corporation, I can say that in my experience the executives are almost universally morons. They get there by kissing butts and stabbing backs, not by being smart. With the said backs often being directly above the butts.

    When I design training material or user interfaces for operators on the shop floor, conventional wisdom is that one should use few words, as many pictures as possible, a consistent color code, etc. because factory workers may not be well-educated, even functionally illiterate, and generally can’t be expected to be that bright.

    When I design presentations for upper management, conventional wisdom is to use few words, lots of pictures, etc. because executives are busy captains of industry who don’t have time for my technical mumbo-jumbo.

    Neither characterization is fair, of course, but I find the difference in perception amusing. We’re supposed to stand in awe of the organizational and executive skill of a large company’s CEO, but (for example) an army sergeant who runs a mess hall, and with greater success than the former, would probably be looked down on as ‘just a grunt’.

  32. 32
    Michael Heath

    DaveL:

    Neither characterization is fair, of course, but I find the difference in perception amusing. We’re supposed to stand in awe of the organizational and executive skill of a large company’s CEO, but (for example) an army sergeant who runs a mess hall, and with greater success than the former, would probably be looked down on as ‘just a grunt’.

    Not only not fair, but as someone who worked my way up from the shop floor, also not true. In fact I don’t recall even one instance of either strawman being propagated.

  1. 33
    personal numerology

    personal numerology…

    [...]Herman Cain and Numerology | Dispatches from the Culture Wars[...]…

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