Newt Gingrich has self-destructed. His ridiculous and mean-spirited attack on Rep. Paul Ryan makes Richard Nixon look as large-hearted as Ronald Reagan. And it makes Bob Dole look like a winner and statesman. Wheel him off stage to catcalls, folks.

Now Tommy Thompson has become the Flavor of the Hour. Expect the Liberal Drivebys to play him up big. It is only too easy to imagine what a boring, plodding fiasco any presidential campaign by him will be. John McCain’s 2008 run will look like a paradise of energy and charisma compared to that.

As for Mitt Romney, now campaigning so courageously and forcefully against the very ObamaCare program he pioneered and implemented in his People’s Republic of Massachusetts: Eric Idle memorably summed him up on “Monty Python’s Flying Circus – “Say no more, Squire.”
It is easy to tell, in fact, what conservatives want when you just go and ask them. They want a second Ronald Reagan.

But what does that actually mean?

It doesn’t just mean having a candidate who will reverse a lifetime of wishy-washy liberal U-turns (Romney), gave $50,000 to a Rahm Emanuel campaign (Donald Trump) or has no stomach to even enter the race (admirable but too often naive and too kind Mike Huckabee). It means bringing to the 2012 campaign the strengths and qualities that then-Governor Reagan brought to the 1980 one.

What were those qualities?

First, President Reagan was a physically big man and he was getting on in years. He was almost 70 when he took office, making him the oldest-ever elected president.

Far from being a disadvantage, this proved to be one of his greatest strengths. Reagan already had a lifetime of experience in the movie industry, even running a major union, the Screen Actors Guild, and then in the business world promoting General Electric before he ever became Governor of California.

What a contrast to Romney, Bobby Jindal, Mitch Daniels and all the other perfectly capable and honorable governors who never had a life or identity worth the name outside politics before their ghost-writers took them in hand.

Second, of course, Reagan was "The Great Communicator." Nearly a quarter century after he left the White House, his great phrases still resonate in our memories. Is there any candidate in the current crop that stands out from the rest in the courage, clarity and resonating wit of his utterances as Reagan always did?

Indeed there is.

Only Herman Cain, who officially announced his candidacy on Saturday, of the current crop of Republican candidates has the moral stature, the record of achievement, the outspoken wit and candor, and the simple courage to speak his mind that were the hallmarks of the Great Reagan. Only he has proved to be an eloquent and effective public spokesman without fear or hesitation in championing those same principles.

Only Cain of the current crop of actual or potential presidential candidates has already produced a withering phrase that wilts his rivals and turns them pale. “How’d That Work Out for Ya?” has already become a potent national watchword comparable to “Tear down this wall!” or, more recently “It’s the economy, stupid.” And Cain has hardly gotten started.

Like Reagan, Cain can look back on a lifetime of continuous, consistent achievement in a remarkable variety of fields. He has been a specialist on computer systems and ballistics for the U.S. Navy. He created Godfather’s Pizza and built up the company as its first and most outstanding CEO. He even ran the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City.

Already, back in 1993, Cain played a crucial role in sinking the chaotic mess of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s proposed comprehensive health care plan. Who therefore could be better qualified now to lead the charge on what will be one of the defining issues of the 2012 campaign – ObamaCare?

President Obama has a resonant voice and that was enough in 2008 to sink John McCain, who didn’t have a voice at all. But no one can remember a single word Obama has ever said – and he says so many – except, of course for the vacuous “Yes, We Can.” Cain can match that by simply and truthfully asserting “Yes, I Did.”

Cain’s resume has a lot more weight and substance than the president’s six months or so as a community organizer in Chicago. Well, American independent voters, when you thought that was enough experience for the presidency, How’d That Work Out for Ya?

Like Reagan, Cain is charming, reassuring, good-natured and delivers knock-out punch-lines. He really is another Great Communicator. If anything, Cain is being taken seriously by the liberal media far more quickly – to their credit – than he is by the Jurassic Dinosaurs ruling the GOP – the same geniuses who gave you Bob Dole and John McCain, and who never dared raise a peep when George W. Bush rolled up a then-record federal debt, produced his prescription program fiasco and plunged eagerly into liberal nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, conservatives, How’d That Work Out for Ya?

Black conservatives have especially outstanding track records of sticking to their guns and their principles when they rise to positions of real responsibility. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is the stand-out example of that. So is Tom Sowell. Cain has always shown that quality too. That is why he offers the best hope of rescuing this great nation from financial meltdown and ruin.

Cain’s ideal running mate, therefore, would be Rep. Paul Ryan, who has shown more courage and willingness to put real rein-in-the-deficit measures on the table that would work in the real world than any other Republican. And that is why Cain-Ryan would be the GOP dream ticket for 2012 and the only real hope conservatives have of sending the president back to the arms of Rahm Emanuel in Chicago after only one term.

Conservatives need to take a deep breath and carry out what Albert Einstein famously called a Thought Experiment.

They need to stop and just imagine what any campaign against president and his loyal “mainstream” media will be like if Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney or any of the other “mainstream” contenders wages it. In political terms, every one of them would be no more than a Dead Man Walking.

Then think instead of how Cain would rally the grassroots and get the independents of the center laughing and then nodding their heads thoughtfully as the Next Great Communicator’s message sinks in.

Just stop and think How That’ll Work Out for Ya.

Martin Sieff is former Managing Editor, International Affairs of United Press International. He is the author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East.”