Just because Herman Cain '12 made an ad featuring chief of staff Mark Block as some kind of kooky, hatless Marlboro Man does not mean that you should start smoking, or that smoking will make you look like a suave campaign operative, or any such thing. No, the takeway of that commercial was this: "let people be people," and also (and more importantly?) "Mark Block smokes."
"Mark Block smokes. That's all that ad says," Cain told Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer this morning. "We weren't trying to say it's cool to smoke. You have a lot of people in this country that smoke. But what I respect about Mark as a smoker, who is my chief of staff, he never smokes around me or smokes around anyone else. He goes outside." That's why you see Mark Block smoking outside in the ad—because he believes in civility and politeness. That's just who he is. "We say let Mark be Mark," Cain said.
But touchy cancer survivor Schieffer doesn't want to let Mark be Mark all the time, so he asked Cain to tell the viewers at home not to smoke. Hundreds of thousands of Americans die every year from smoking-related health issues, he pointed out, and that's bad. So Cain told America not to smoke, and everyone watching put down their cigarettes and breathed a collective sigh. Then the camera cut to a close-up of Mark Block smoking a cigarette, and everyone started smoking again.