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James Kotecki

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Herman Cain Sings! That's... Different

Posted: 11/01/11 08:31 PM ET

There's no doubt about it: Herman Cain loves to sing. He even sang a Gospel tune in response to allegations of sexual harassment. And honestly, he's pretty good. Add that to the many ways Cain is running a campaign "like nobody's ever seen." Or heard, for that matter.

Most presidential candidates don't sing solos. When they do, things often go badly. In 2008, John McCain's "Bomb Iran" parody of "Barbara Ann" drew liberal criticism. Mitt Romney's "singing" skills became a punch line when he asked young African-Americans "who let the dogs out" and then woofed like the Baja Men he was quoting. Even obligatory group songs can lead to political disaster for candidates wearing live mics -- a lesson Hillary Clinton learned during the National Anthem.

Modern presidential candidates who are musically adept usually don't use their voice as their instrument. Mike Huckabee's bass guitar skills may not have won him the election, but they're good enough for his FOX News television show.

The last president (or party nominee) known for his musical talent was Bill Clinton, who proved he was cool by playing the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show almost 20 years ago. Richard Nixon, whose teacher encouraged him to become a professional musician, played piano and violin. All of these examples are endearing -- probably because all of these politicians kept their mouths shut.

It's no surprise that most presidential candidates don't attempt to win over voters with their golden pipes. Singing is perhaps the most personal form of musical expression. Otherwise kind, normal people feel comfortable criticizing bad singers, even if they can't do it themselves (consider the success of American Idol). Herman Cain's propensity to burst into songs -- and nail them -- thus sets him apart from every major presidential candidate in recent memory.

While the podium solos of President Cain would be a first for the U.S. (he could save money by performing all his own inauguration numbers), Cain could turn to current foreign leaders for lessons on wielding his musical powers. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Canadian Prime Mister Stephen Harper both enjoy belting out concert tunes, and for people who have no business singing in public, they're not bad. Should Cain ever want a duet partner behind the podium, he could ask Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Most likely, Cain would blaze his own path in presidential music making. After all, nobody's ever heard a candidate like Herman Cain.

 

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