Herman Cain held a large rally in Atlanta Saturday to announce he was "suspending" his president campaign. He has blamed his problems on the media, Washington, the Democrats, his Republican rivals, liberals, former girlfriends, their lawyers and everyone else but the true culprit: Herman Cain.
His candidacy was sunk by the same powerful force that has ended the candidacies and careers of so many other ambitious politicians: self-inflicted wounds.
Cain was already on the way out before the charges of sexual misconduct arose. He showed himself to be miserably ill-informed on foreign policy, confused about Libya, dismissing the "so-called Palestinian people" and sounding silly or stupid when he joked off “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” as some insignificant country.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry quickly soared to the top of the pack and then just as quickly went into a nosedive when he repeatedly tripped over his own tongue. His debate skills were less than stellar, and when he couldn't even remember the three federal agencies he wanted to abolish he went from being a hopeful to being a punch line.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, like Perry, is still officially in the race but steadily dropping to the back of the pack after a series of gaffes. The Minnesota congresswoman didn't know in which state the American Revolution began, confused mass murderer John Wayne Gacy with movie star John Wayne, suggested African-American babies may have been better off under slavery and said the hurricane and earthquake that hit Washington were a message from God to "rein in spending." It got so bad that even Rush Limbaugh called her a bit flakey.
Earlier this year Donald Trump's incredibly brief campaign collapsed under the weight of his oversized ego, his warm embrace of the birther movement and the publication of President Obama's birth certificate. The Donald is talking about getting back in as an independent if the other candidates don't meet his standards; given his performance so far, it's hard to figure out exactly what that means. Standards for what? Ignorance?
Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia) is running to regain the Senate seat he lost in 2006 in large part after being caught on video using a racist epithet to refer to one of his opponent's aides. He didn't help his cause either by trying to conceal his Jewish ancestry until forced by the facts to admit his mother was a Sephardic Jew born in Tunisia. Will he find another way to destroy his 2012 campaign? Stay tuned.
This year's campaign trail self-destructors were just the latest in a long tradition in American politics.
1988 Democratic hopeful Sen. Gary Hart's campaign crashed on the rocks after reporters took seriously his challenge to "Follow me around. I don't care." That voyage led to the aptly named yacht "Monkey Business" and Hart's extramarital affair with Donna Rice.
Richard Nixon wasn't brought down by a communist conspiracy or a cabal of his enemies but by his paranoia, his inept cover-up of the 1972 Watergate break-in at Democratic headquarters and his own criminal conspiracy to subvert the Constitution.
Ohio Rep Wayne Hayes (D) was one of the most powerful — and meanest — members of Congress until his former secretary, Elizabeth Ray, told the Washington Post in 1976 she'd been kept on the House payroll to serve as his mistress. She's remembered for boasting "I can't type. I can't file. I can't even answer the phone."
Rep. Tom DeLay, the powerful House Republican leader, was not brought down because, as he claimed, "he's been a strong advocate of conservative causes" but because he was indicted — and ultimately convicted earlier this year — on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford told his staff and others that he was off hiking on the Appalachian Trail in mid-June 2009 when he actually snuck off to Argentina to snuggle with he soul mate.
Herman Cain was a contender this year, briefly, and now he'll be lucky to be a footnote. Another victim of self inflicted wounds.
He'll have lots of company.