In my short profile of Herman Cain, the Tea Party favorite and GOP presidential hopeful, I mentioned his auspicious debut on the national political stage. It came in 1994, when Cain was CEO of Godfather's Pizza and challenged Bill Clinton at a nationally televised town hall meeting supposed to shore up support for Clinton's flagging health care plan. (It didn't.) As I say in the piece, this strikes me as an enormously valuable thing for someone seeking GOP support in 2011, since health care will be a central issue in the Republican primaries. Today, every Republican is critical of the Democratic health care plan. But Cain was fighting the Democratic health care plan 17 years ago! That counts for a lot. Especially when the presumed GOP favorite, Mitt Romney, was, at that very same time, doing his best to outflank Ted Kennedy to the left on the question of who was more vehemently pro choice. The video of Cain's classic confrontation with Clinton was harder to turn up than I expected. But I finally got a copy, uploaded it, and it certainly lives up to billing. If this video goes viral among conservative activists, Cain's candidacy will be even more interesting to watch:
Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.