Monday, November 14, 2011

Herman Cain, in vain


Rick Perry can rest easy. The Texas governor’s debate gaffe last week, when he failed to remember the third of the federal agencies he would abolish in the increasingly unlikely event that he becomes president, has just been eclipsed — by orders of magnitude — by a major lapse from Herman Cain, revealed on a video released hours ago by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a video going wicked viral on YouTube.

Cain, interviewed today by the editorial board of the Journal Sentinel, was asked at one point about the American response to the popular uprising in Libya, the firestorm of discontent that led to eight months of war and, about three weeks ago, the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi from the cares of this world.

The interview about what should have been done by the United States vis-à-vis Libya begins, as these things often do, with a simple question:

Journal Sentinel: So you agree with President Obama or not?

Cain’s eyes roll skyward. “OK, Libya,” he says, as though he were trying to recall the dates of the Peloponnesian War. His left hand slides a bottle of Aquafina water a few inches forward on the table.

“President Obama ... supported ... the uprising. Correct? President Obama called for the removal of … Gaddafi. Just wanna make sure we’re talking about the same thing before I say, ‘yes I agree’ or ‘no, I didn’t agree.’

Oh, yes sir, by all means, let’s absolutely be sure we’re talking about the same north African country named Libya.



“Um, I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reasons … um,” he says, eyes again cast upward, just in case the good folks at the Journal Sentinel wrote the answer on the ceiling. “No, no, that’s a different one,” he says, fidgeting with his conservative-red tie, shifting in his chair, crossing his legs, moving the chair to face his questioner directly, clutching his suit jacket.

Crickets.

“I gotta go back and see, uh ...”

More crickets.

“I got all this stuff twirling around in my head. Uh ...”

Cain bluffs his way through much of the rest of the theoretical Libyan discussion, finally finding a safe harbor in the unassailable position of saying he would have made sure he heard from all of his advisers before making a decision on how to proceed in Libya — the better to make an informed decision.

But after his serious screwup on China’s nuclear capability (they’re not trying to get nuclear weapons, they’ve only had them since 1964) and his dismissive comment on the need for knowing about other world leaders (“When they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I'm going to say, ‘you know, I don't know.’”), the first minute and 10 seconds of the video are what lawyers call “dispositive.” All the backing and filling that comes later, the improvisational half-answers point to the inescapable: Herman Cain is winging it and has been from the jump.

Commenting on the video at YouTube, aaaaflasd sums up the Cain campaign perfectly:

“MICROWAVE: *DING*”
Image credits: Cain top: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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