Herman Cain moves up

What’s wrong with Newt Gingrich these days? Barely a week after kicking off his triumphant procession of intellectual conservatism in action, the former Speaker of the House gaffes on the one show he used to dust in his sleep — "Meet the Press."

Medicare must be Gingrich’s Achilles' heel. Even years following his “wither on the vine” line, he now calls the one reasonable plan to save Medicare “right-wing social engineering” as though he copied it off The New Republic’s website.

Then on Tuesday, he apparently hosts a conference call to say he didn’t mean it. Gingrich was just joshing. So can we please move on now with the business of picking a Republican who can beat Barack Obama?

I’m sorry, but you don’t get a free pass after that sort of week. This legislative brainiac has been on "Meet the Press" no fewer than 34 times through the years, and he follows his appearance by saying “it didn’t occur to me going in that you’d have a series of setups”? Please.

OK, I’ll let it go. But it is the missteps and just plain dumb moves like that that make the candidacy of a Herman Cain — the proclaimed winner of South Carolina’s GOP presidential debate — look increasingly appealing by the day.

Words like “articulate,” “measured” and “sensible” have been used by my viewers and radio show listeners to describe Cain’s fledgling, almost Quixotic pursuit of the presidency.

It’s fair to say that candidates such as Cain have a tough race in front of them, but isn’t that what the race for the presidency should be about? The rise of the lesser-known because he wants to better this country? In some twisted way, wasn’t that the most appealing part of Donald Trump — that he knew how to run a business and tell it like it is?

Is Herman Cain, a CEO of a major franchise, the Donald-lite of this 2012 election? Does he have all the attractive qualities of an MBA type, minus the ego (and the hair)?

Gingrich’s policy foibles this past weekend prove this Republican race is wide open. But one thing is clear — the party needs to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff, because Obama’s presidential campaign is having one good laugh right now at its expense.