There was a pretty funny little bitch out of Herman Cain in the New Yorker this week about how no one, least of all Cain himself, planned on him becoming the frontrunner. He was supposed to be a flash in the pan candidate, but the Republican party has become so unpredictable that he’s now, shockingly, winning.
The best part is more or less this elegant takedown:
Cain experts disagree over whether Cain genuinely believes he can and will be President (a minority opinion, though one held by people close to him) or whether the entire enterprise is simply a financial venture to increase his speaking fees gone horribly awry (the majority view).
Pithy as a motherfucker, right? Anyhow. I bolded the tail because I like the notion that fringe candidates are running for the savvy and cynical purpose of bumping up their profiles and speaking fees. The New Yorker article continues to say that a lot of fringe candidates are driven by ideology, and want to influence the political conversation. They name Steve Forbes, and I think we can add Michele Bachmann to that list Maybe Rick Santorum, too. (Forbes wanted a flat tax, Bachmann and Santorum want a flat earth #politicalzinger).
But while they’re driven by ideology and the believe in their cavemen Christian cause, they probably also want to capitalize on becoming more famous by selling more books and charging more for appearances. That’s going to work out well for Bachmann. Her campaign might be imploding, but she is going to be around forever, even if she quit Congress today. Her crazy eyes were plastered on the cover of Newsweek. She can spend the rest of her life saying insane stuff on TV and in books and she will get paid insane amounts of money.
Santorum, maybe not so much. He never got to have a moment in this election. He never raised his profile so he’s exactly as known or unknown as he was before.
So I tried to figure out what his speaking fee would be. I couldn’t pin down an exact number, as he seems to have multiple agents for different things. But here his quote is $10,000-$15,000. That seems like a lot of money to pay for a dumb asshole to blather on about morality or whatever, right? But you know who commands the same amount of money as a speaker? Alan Keyes. The last time that dude was in the public eye was when he was getting punked by Borat, and that was in 2006. Meanwhile, lecture agency the Washington Speaker’s Bureau charges over $40,000 per event for David Blaine, Terry Bradshaw and Geena Davis. They also represent Herman Cain, but the website doesn’t say how much he charges per appearance, only that it varies depending on where he has to go.
So financially, it was probably not a great idea for Santorum to run. He’s got even more of the taint of a loser to him, and he doesn’t have any new heat or notoriety to capitalize on.
Also, a funny moment of serendipity: Dan Savage’s speaking fee range is in the same range as Santorum’s.