Herman, His Hero


You’ve probably seen the Herman Cain ad already – it made the rounds earlier this week and was spoofed on Colbert last night – but I think I still can’t resist posting it here.

A lot of the talk is about what they were thinking by having the guy smoke, but that seems obvious to me: smoking is a signifier of political incorrectness, and appeals as a quasi-rebellious gesture even to primary voters who don’t smoke. Mark Block, the Smoking Man, even said that his puffing will play in the heartland: “You walk into a veterans’ bar in Iowa and they’re sitting around smoking, and yeah, we are resonating with them. I’m not the only one that smokes in America, for God’s sake.” Having the candidate light up in an ad would look bad in this day and age, but having his chief of staff light up gives the campaign a certain cachet with a) People who smoke and b) People who don’t smoke, but dislike the stigmatization of smoking, or associate smoking with traditionalism.

Why they decided this particular guy should be the face of the campaign, I don’t know, but I don’t think it necessarily means that the campaign doesn’t take itself seriously, just that the campaign hasn’t raised a lot of money yet.


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Herman, His Hero

  1. Cain ftw!

    However, since I like Cain he must have slim to none chance of being victorious because no pol I liked has ever come close to winning anything. 

    Love the ad, it’s a bit louche and will irritate many. What I like about Cain is that he seems sincere in his contempt for Washington and it would be interesting to see a President that has real world experience and who didn’t attend Harvard or Yale. 

    Mark Block might be in ads because of lack of money but Cain is also trying to appear nornal, not too professional or slick like other candidates. Cain’s wants to appear normal, average, like Palin was doing in 2008. Cain doesn’t yet want too many handlers or staff because pols start to become more inauthentic when the spin doctors start to get involved and his supporters won’t like it.

  2. When I watched ad yesterday, I thought of study. 

    Block is breaking societal rules by taking a drag on a cig at the end and I bet that sent out subliminal message to many.

    Breaking Rules Makes You Seem Powerful ~ Science Daily May 2011: 

    When people have power, they act the part. Powerful people smile less, interrupt others, and speak in a louder voice. When people do not respect the basic rules of social behavior, they lead others to believe that they have power, according to a study in the currentSocial Psychological and Personality Science.

    People with power have a very different experience of the world than people without it. The powerful have fewer rules to follow, and they live in environments of money, knowledge and support. People without power live with threats of punishment and firm limits according to the research team lead by Gerben Van Kleef of the University of Amsterdam. Because the powerful are freer to break the rules — does breaking the rules seem more powerful?

  3. I also think it’s because Mr. Block looks like a regular, unfancy white-guy.  His glasses are not definitely not designer, his teeth haven’t been capped and he’s obviously not wearing a $3,000 suit.  Smoking is just the most obvious of the tropes being trotted out.

    Herman Cain is a wealthy and successful businessman.  He is also black.  Having this very average looking white-guy be the main spokesperson makes Mr. Cain seem all the more acceptable to the people who have lost jobs in “the heartland.”

  4. Washington, like much of America is bound-up in liberal ideas of what is politically correct.  Smoking has become a social taboo in general but has encroached on traditionally-spared safe havens…like bars. When New York made it illegal to smoke anywhere in public and made it unwelcome in bars and restaurants by yielding to nutbags who love to control things, businesses lost customers.
    If anything, I believe this message harpoons the nanny state notion.  It condemns invasive nanny-state tinkering and reinforces Herman Cain’s message that government should be small, should protect the country at large, and leave the communities (and states) to govern themselves socially.

    • It’s obviously a shot across Romney’s bow who,  as a Mormon, thinks smoking is immoral.

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