Larry S. Buford

*Today we heard that old familiar sigh again. It’s the sigh of disbelief and disappointment that we’ve heard so often in our lifetime. One moment there’s sheer excitement, enthusiasm, and exhilaration in the air, then boom! the thrill is gone. Herman Cain’s announcement before an Atlanta crowd that he was suspending his presidential campaign was preceded by anticipation that he was going to continue. He used words like, “Look at what we’ve done,” and “We’re fighters,” and others so that you got the sense he was going to announce an onward and upward resolve.

Then he said “… ‘Plan A’ was”…uh, oh…and “… ‘Plan B’ is”…another uh, oh…and he voiced those words that the crowd obviously did not want to hear: that he was suspending his campaign. The sigh that came from the crowd said it all, and it rang familiar.

Remember the Kennedy assassination November 22, 1963? The crowds lined up along the Dallas streets were ecstatic, and the air was electric as President Kennedy’s motorcade passed through, and then boom! There was that sigh, the horror, the hush, the disbelief of what was unfolding right before witnesses’ eyes. To this day we’re still wondering what was going on behind the scenes that we’ve never really been able to sink our teeth into.

You can hear that same sigh on footage of presidential candidate Robert Kennedy when he announced to an Indianapolis crowd the night of April 4, 1968, that Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed. Two months later “sigh” showed up again on June 6th when Robert Kennedy himself was gunned down in Los Angeles. Still the American people have not fully put their arms around the details of those tragic events.

We heard that sigh during the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion on January 28, 1986. What the investigation in that case yielded is very disturbing – the flawed O-ring design had been known since 1977, but nothing was done about it. Of course we all remember when “sigh” and his whole family showed up on September 11, 2001. The ensuing investigation turned up so many flaws in our intelligence agencies that we cringed in disbelief of all the clues and signals that were not more diligently acted upon, or were missed altogether.

Whether you were for or against Mr. Cain (this is not an endorsement), he put up a good fight, and it appears he still had an array of supporters who would stick by him (especially his wife and family), so one can only wonder – aside from all the public opinion on the unproven allegations about his personal conduct – what is really going on? He was a Republican front-runner just a few weeks ago. Why did not the system as it is today allow him to feel he could continue to run win or lose?  Isn’t that the American way? What will history (or his story) reveal as time goes by? Yes running for president is a vicious process, and Americans love a good but clean fight. Mr. Cain gave us one. I hope the politicians and media will pay attention to the sigh we heard from the crowd there in Atlanta and quit kicking up all the dirt that distracts from the real issues. America is exasperated and hungry for true leadership at any cost, as it is becoming more and more a rarity.

Larry Buford is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. Author of “Things Are Gettin’ Outta Hand” (Steuben Pub) Available at Smiley’s Bookstore in Carson CA, Chaucer’s in Santa Barbara CA, and Shantinique’s in Detroit MI. Visit the author at (213) 220-8101