UPDATE: The entire video, unedited, can be found here.
Anyone who saw the debate on Saturday night and observed Herman Cain‘s performance clearly saw a man who was terrified of the questions he was being asked and was hoping to be noticed as little as possible. Apparently, there was a good reason for that. Herman Cain apparently sat down with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial board to talk foreign policy and, well… this happened.
Now, normally I would include a description of what happened in this video but this is one of those videos you really do have to see to believe. You cannot grasp how utterly clueless Cain is in answering this question until you see his physical discomfort – and you wouldn’t believe that he didn’t know whether Obama supported the rebels or not unless you saw it for yourself. (Apparently, in another nugget from this same interview, Cain indicated that he believed that public sector employees should be able to bargain collectively so long as that did not impose a burden on taxpayers – which is a little like saying he would be in favor of invading Iran so long as no one got killed.)
Now, the Cain campaign is making a number of excuses. First, Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon claims that the video was edited to make Cain look bad. I have news for Mr. Gordon – you cannot edit IN a long, clueless pause – you can only edit one out. You cannot edit IN Cain asking if Obama supported the rebels or not – you can only edit it out. Furthermore, I can’t tell that this video was edited whatsoever. That said, if there is an uncut video somewhere that could possibly make this look like anything other than a complete disaster, I would love to see it.
Second, it is alleged that Cain was running on four hours of sleep and his answer could be due to fatigue. Look – it is one thing to look tired and fatigued and stumble in your answers. Cain should know all about that because his entire current standing in the polls is due to that very thing happening to Rick Perry in the CNN Florida debate. Then, on the other hand, there is not knowing what the heck you are talking about – and I defy anyone of even marginal objectivity to watch the above video and tell me that there is any other explanation for a) Cain’s debate performance on Saturday and b) what happened in the above video. When it comes to foreign policy – or, so far as we know, most aspects of domestic policy – Cain appears when pressed on details to be a man out of his element and completely unprepared to bring even marginal knowledge to the table, other than that he ought to hire some experts to do his thinking for him. Furthermore, to resort to a worn-out political cliche, when the 3am phone call comes to the big red phone in the White House, you’re sort of expected to be able to form a response that is at least coherent even if you’ve only had four hours of sleep.
Cain has benefitted to some degree from the fact that domestic issues have been the pressing order of the day during this campaign season. However, he cannot expect that GOP primary voters will continue to overlook his glaring unpreparedness on foreign policy issues. And given that the next debate will likewise be on foreign policy issues, Cain may be close to finding that his time in the sun is over.