Remember when Sarah Palin went into that Katie Couric interview expecting softball Mom questions, and came out in tatters? Well, OK “ What papers do you read?” really was a softball question for a vice-presidential candidate, but Palin was in shreds by the end anyway. And tonight, presidential candidate Herman Cain - who has moved from Godfather’s Pizza to The Campaign That Couldn’t Shoot Straight - is scheduled to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live, even while those sexual harassment accusations and murky, non-disclosure settlements are swirling around him. Laugh if you want to, but as Palin discovered, it is a mistake to underestimate your interviewer.
Kimmel is not a tough questioner, but he’s a smart guy, much smarter than his Regular Joe persona suggests. Some clever, pointed satire has crept into his monologues in the past few years, and he manages to make fun of Dancing With the Stars and all those Bachelor shows even while he relentlesly promotes them for his network. He knows people enjoy the shows becasue they’re vapid and silly; I’m sure he knows that tonight is his big chance to make some non-silly news. And he has been announced as host of the next White House Correspondents Dinner, which in recent years has been razor-sharp. (Some of the edge last year came from President Obama himself.)
Of course it’s never the supposedly tough question that’s hard, it’s the follow-up. “Did you chop up your granny?” is easy to ask. “Then why was the bloody ax found in your garage?” takes more guts.
I have no idea what Kimmel will come up with, but I like his goofy-smart humor, and if we’re lucky Cain will show up. Today Gloria Allred - the all-sexual-harassment-all-the-time attorney - brought accusations against Cain from a fourth woman. Would you let your candidate do late-night comedy after that? But who knows what that crazy Cain campaign will do.
And if Kimmel will is as sharp as I hope, he’ll disarm Cain into revealing what’s beneath the buffoonish exterior. It’s still hard to believe we have to take Cain seriously – really? 999? – but I wouldn’t miss this unexpected matchup. Go, Jimmy!