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November 15, 2011 8:00 AM The ‘stuff twirling around’ in Cain’s head

By Steve Benen

When Rick Perry forgot one of his rehearsed talking points, he looked pretty ridiculous. When Herman Cain was asked about U.S. policy towards Libya yesterday, it was much worse.

Cain was meeting with some Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editors, who asked a rather straightforward question: do you agree with President Obama on Libya? The response has to be seen to be believed.

“OK, Libya,” Cain said, apparently trying to remember why the country is important. After nine seconds of silence, the Republican added, “President Obama supported the uprising, correct? President Obama called for the removal of Gadhafi. Just want to make sure we’re talking about the same thing before I say, yes I agree, or no I didn’t agree. I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason: no, that’s a different one.”

After another seven seconds of silence, Cain managed to say, “I gotta go back to see — got all this stuff twirling around in my head. Um, specifically, what are you asking me, did I agree or not disagree with Obama on?”

Eventually, the presidential hopeful tried to say he disapproved of Obama’s handling of Libya, though Cain couldn’t offer a coherent reason why.

Perry forgot part of his talking points; Cain doesn’t feel the need to understand foreign policy at even the most basic levels. The former is embarrassing; the latter is disqualifying.

Hoping to explain this car crash, the candidate’s spokesperson said Cain was “going on four hours sleep, so he was tired.” That’s not exactly persuasive. For one thing, we’ve all had occasions in which we’ve gone on four hours sleep, but managed not to become quite this ignorant. It’s not as if Libya is an obscure issue.

For another, sometimes candidates and presidents have to persevere even when they’re tired. If Cain isn’t up to the task, he shouldn’t run.

Indeed, perhaps now would be a good time for Cain and his supporters to explain why he even wants to be president. He doesn’t even seem interested in learning anything about current events or the basics of public policy. So why bother?

Dan Drezner’s conclusion seems about right: “There’s a mercy rule in Little League, and I’m applying it here — unless and until Herman Cain surges back in the polls again, or manages to muster something approaching cogency in his foreign policy statements, there’s no point in blogging about him anymore. I can only pick on an ignoramus so many times before it feels sadistic.”

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • c u n d gulag on November 15, 2011 8:09 AM:


    Look on the plus side - as least Cain didn't think it was a question about sexual harassment and blurt out, "She's lying! I never touched her Libya!!!"

  • Bartender on November 15, 2011 8:16 AM:

    Four hours sleep was responsible for this!!?? I'd hate to see what happens if he were to get that dreaded 3am crisis call - might he launch sorties on Chicago?

  • Jurgan on November 15, 2011 8:17 AM:

    Gulag, you win an internet for that comment.

    Steve, you're being too hard on Herman. He understands the fundamental point of the Libyan policy that primary voters want to hear: Obama did it, so he's against it.

  • Hedda Peraz on November 15, 2011 8:18 AM:

    In Herman's defense, Libya as a country no longer exists, because, after Lockerbie, Ronald Reagan bombed it back into the stone age.

  • estamm on November 15, 2011 8:20 AM:

    Sometimes I think it would literally (and yes, I mean literally) kill a Republican to give Obama credit or praise for absolutely anything. For a Republican, praise for Obama is like kryptonite to Superman. It renders them completely helpless. I can't even remember anyone on the right given Obama any kind of praise for killing bin Laden. Oh, they praised BUSH, but not one word for Obama. The Republican party has been so ruined that Lincoln is spinning in his grave.

  • Larry Reilly on November 15, 2011 8:22 AM:

    The Republican establishment knew that George W. Bush was aggressively ignorant but figured they could run the country by committee. They had expected a cabal of neocons led by Dick Cheney to seize total control and run us to ruin.

    Now they get a slew of aggressively ignorant candidates. I can just see President Cain at work: The Secretary of Defense comes into the Oval Office to ask for not one, but two new fighter jets.
    "Sure," says Cain. "Would you like extra cheese on that?"

  • stevio on November 15, 2011 8:23 AM:

    There are many Bozos on this bus...

    That he even made it this far is a sad commentary about our collective intelligence. Close to 1/2 of the population would vote for that moron in a presidential election which brings a frightening reality to my Bozo statement.

    AND with an assist from our old friend DIEBOLD, he could conceivably win and place the whole world into an Uzbeckastany state-of-mind...

    Truly nauseating...

  • larry reilly on November 15, 2011 8:25 AM:

    word dropped out....should be....
    They had not expected a cabal of neocons led by Dick Cheney to seize total control and run us to ruin.

  • hells littlest angel on November 15, 2011 8:26 AM:

    While Cain may not be qualified to be "president," he has demonstrated himself to be fully capable of being the Exalted Mystic Ruler of Ignorantmotherfuckerland, the office for which he is actually running.

  • Marko on November 15, 2011 8:27 AM:

    unless and until Herman Cain surges back in the polls again,...there’s no point in blogging about him anymore.

    This has been the final episode of, "Why Cain is Soooo Toast".

  • berttheclock on November 15, 2011 8:35 AM:

    Laugh if you must, but, the fault lies with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Why did they block the advisors for Cain from entering the room? Cain, said, if elected, he would surround himself with needed advisors. Typical Left Wing Rag of a so-called paper. They refused to allow the janitor from the building where Henry Kissinger lives to be in the room with Herman in order to advise him.

  • KurtRexCooper on November 15, 2011 8:41 AM:

    He dresses well....

    That said, the GOP & Dems in 2016 really need to rethink the nomination process, it is too long which in effect allows only the über rich, fanatic, & PR seekers to run. A short nomination process with a short campaign would permit a variety of professional candidates to be made available to the public.

  • Kathryn on November 15, 2011 8:41 AM:

    Hopefully this is the end of Mr. Cain as a slightly viable candidate for president, his poll numbers are beginning to dip. It is embarrassing for this nation to have such an unqualified person receive the support he has. In my opinion, the entire Republican field is embarrassing. Watching the clips of debates is painful, all participants trying to outdo each other with bellicose, heartless, lying remarks. Most of the questioners do less than stellar jobs with followup questions and let blatant falsehoods hang in the air; for example, nearly every word that comes out of Newt's mouth. And now Newt is surging, what a sorry base makes up the GOP. This is the outcome of many years of Rush Limbaughl, FOX cable propaganda and all the other lying lunatics and religious fanatics on the radio and in the pews.

    It is particularly galling to be treated to Mr." If you don't have a job, blame yourself" Cain fall back on excuses of the dog ate my homework variety. Good riddance Herminator.


  • square1 on November 15, 2011 8:47 AM:

    It would be nice if Benen applied the mercy rule to the entire field. These people are clowns. But not every post needs to be "Look! They're wearing silly noses and floppy shoes!"

  • Zorro on November 15, 2011 8:53 AM:

    Perry forgot part of his talking points; Cain doesn’t feel the need to understand foreign policy at even the most basic levels. The former is very impressive; the latter is clear proof that he's Presidential material in the eyes of the GOP.

    Fixed that for you.

    -Z

  • Kathryn on November 15, 2011 8:56 AM:

    gulag is a natural comedy writer, The Daily Show could use him.. I'm serious, it's past time for him to be discovered. The first comment I search for on the comment section is his and I bet I'm not alone.

  • T2 on November 15, 2011 9:05 AM:

    Cain can't make a decent sentence, neither can Perry, neither could Bush. Gingrich can actually put a sentence together. But what he says is just as nutso as those other guys. In today's GOP, that makes you a credible candidate.

  • c u n d gulag on November 15, 2011 9:15 AM:

    Thanks, Kathryn.
    How very kind of you to say so! :-)

  • AK Liberal on November 15, 2011 9:19 AM:

    It would be nice if Benen applied the mercy rule to the entire field. These people are clowns. But not every post needs to be "Look! They're wearing silly noses and floppy shoes!"

    I am of the opinion that you can't point out the clown costumes often enough. Otherwise they will become the new norm.

  • SYSPROG on November 15, 2011 9:35 AM:

    'I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason: no, that’s a different one.”

    And there you go. THIS is the problem. There is absolutely no compromise, no agreeing that SOME things are good things. It's not just with these candidates, it's with Congress. And when the President is willing to give credit where credit is due, he is 'weak'. People! We need to get this together.

  • Harvest on November 15, 2011 9:36 AM:

    I agree, Kathryn. Gulag is an awesome talent who needs to take his gifts beyond Steve's comments section and share them with the wider world (but please, come back and visit often!).

  • stmojo on November 15, 2011 10:03 AM:

    Jon Stewart invoked the mercy rule last week, declaring Romney the Republican nominee. Drezner needs a different gag.

  • James Lee on November 15, 2011 10:04 AM:

    "The former is embarrassing; the latter is disqualifying."

    The latter has turned the entire Republican party into the equivalent of Ann Coulter, a laughingstock. I used to consider them somewhat of an actual threat, but now I really can't look at them with any semblance of seriousness.

  • chi res on November 15, 2011 10:23 AM:

    About that "stuff twirling around" in Cain's head...

    Tell me, does he have brown eyes?

  • Death Panel Truck on November 15, 2011 11:08 AM:

    And to think there are actually people out there who would gladly vote for this ignoramus just to "stick it" to liberals.

    Frightening. And they call us unpatriotic.

  • sparrow on November 15, 2011 11:10 AM:

    I think the stuff twirling around in his head are all those 9 9 9s in pretty colors and sizes. So distracting.

  • Marc on November 15, 2011 12:12 PM:

    I wonder if Cain is reading all of Sarah Palin's news sources?

  • zandru on November 15, 2011 12:19 PM:

    Maybe if they'd asked Cain about "Lib-lib-lib-ya-ya!" he would have understood...

  • TCinLA on November 15, 2011 12:44 PM:

    You know how conservatives have hated Affirmative Action forever, since it's a policy to promote the unqualified (non-white) over the qualified (white guy)? Well, the Hermanator is the Poster Boy for exactly that kind of affirmative action. Looking at his career in business, it's obvious he was always the Front Office Negro for whatever gaggle of (white) conservatives were in need of a "special spokesman" for whatever con game they were running. He didn't have to know anything other than "Yassuh, massa," since they would tell him what to say and he would parrot it. And now he's confused himself with someone who actually deserved all that "achievement" he had.

  • TCinLA on November 15, 2011 12:54 PM:

    A third vote for Gulag's talent. You ought to get your own blog (C U N D GULAG) - it's free at "blogger." Remember: "Build it and they will come". Seriously, man, your POV is needed.

  • Marko on November 15, 2011 1:08 PM:

    "And there you go. THIS is the problem. There is absolutely no compromise, no agreeing that SOME things are good things. It's not just with these candidates, it's with Congress. And when the President is willing to give credit where credit is due, he is 'weak'. People! We need to get this together."

    And the kicker is, Obama got it exactly right in Libya. If he'd gone in sooner, it would have looked like more USA bullying and the rest of the Arab world would not have backed it. If he'd gone in later, then it would have been too late and the cause would have been lost. And yet, every Republican admits that s/he would have gone in sooner, later or not at all. And it would have been another foreign relations fiasco.

    And these candidates are the best the GOP has to offer? Doesn't say much about the rest of the entire party.

  • c u n d gulag on November 15, 2011 1:09 PM:

    Thanks, everyone.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but isn't it a bit late to be starting-up my own blog?

    Besides, I'm a better wise-ass, sniping from the back of the room! :-)

    Let me think about it.

  • Rick Massimo on November 15, 2011 1:16 PM:

    "Perry forgot part of his talking points; Cain doesn’t feel the need to understand foreign policy at even the most basic levels. The former is embarrassing; the latter is disqualifying."

    Again, it isn't so much that Perry forgot part of his talking points; it was that the elimination of an entire Cabinet-level department was a mere talking point. It's also disqualifying.

  • N.Wells on November 15, 2011 6:30 PM:

    Wow, that video is like every student who ever tried to snow-job their way through a question. Move something to play for time. Repeat the question in the hopes that inspiration will strike. Try to ply a little more information from the questioner before making a major error. Launch into some cliches to get started. Flail around in the hopes of hitting something. Try to turn personal uncertainties into positive-sounding statements. Grab onto the hint that Obama's actions were controversial within his own administration. He gets kudos for suppressing the standard deer-in-the-headlights facial expression and for avoiding sounding too relieved when he trotted out Gaddafi's name.

    However, he was remarkably certain that Obama was wrong (even though he couldn't say why), and that he'd be more deliberate in his decision making (apparently in contrast to that notoriously ill-informed hot-head, ol' shoot-first, ask-questions-later Obama!!!).

  • N.Wells on November 15, 2011 6:59 PM:

    I knew that Cain-wreck of an answer reminded me of another candidate, but who'd have thought that anyone could make Palin appear nimble and articulate in comparison:
    http://www.youtube.com/v/YpJsQch9uZo&hl=en&fs=1

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