Herman Cain’s Favorite Number Isn’t Actually 999

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Next comes four! Then five!!!!
Next comes four! Then five!!!! Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/2011 AFP

Buried inside T.A. Frank's The New York Times Magazine story on Herman "999" Cain is an intriguing little nugget: Cain says in his book This Is Herman Cain! that he's not a numerologist, but he just can't ignore the number 45. It's everywhere.

Frank pulls out the relevant bits: Cain's "conception, gestation, and birth" all happened in 1945. He would be the 45th president. He and Mark Block once had dinner at a restaurant called Table 45, where the chef had previously worked at another restaurant with a table number 45. Once, he took flight 1045 home to Atlanta. Another time, the altitude was 45,000 feet on a flight. Next year, 2012, he'll celebrate his 45th college reunion; the following year, his "first in the White House," he'll celebrate his 45th wedding anniversary.

45! It's almost as if it comes after 44 an uncanny percentage of the time. And,  of course, unstated by Frank but so obvious: The sum of 45's digits is ... 9! Which brings us back to the 999 tax plan, naturally, which we now know would never have happened if Cain hadn't picked that restaurant. History hinges on the small stuff.