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.