Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

I was going to write something longish about the excellent Henry Olsen, but I’m kind of tired and it would take more mental energy than I have at the moment.  So I’ll go back to shooting fish in a barrel.

Herman Cain has had a tough day.  His answer  on Libya was hilarious.  He deserves a mulligan on the first part of his answer (the part where he says “I gotta go back, see . . . got all this stuff twirling around in my head.”)  It is okay to have your train of thought derailed once in a while in the course of a conversation.  That is just something that happens to human beings.  It is really the second part of his answer that is truly awful.  I’ve seen Cain gives answers on Libya before.  He has this line about how he would have gotten involved even faster than Obama, but would have first made sure to know which factions of the Libyan opposition were pro-American.  On the one hand, the idea that Cain is just the guy to make quick and accurate judgments about factions of the Libyan opposition is preposterous.  On the other hand, Cain’s line was a perfectly normal example of hack, opportunistic, out party carping.  The problem was that Cain didn’t know how to defend his line when pressed.  Behold a man drowning in what he had been shoveling:

“JS: Many Republicans supported, congratulated him [Obama] for how he handled that [Libya]. You would not have been among that group?

Cain: I’m not criticizing him. I’m just saying I don’t think enough was done relative to assessing the situation before everything, you know, exploded. That’s what I’m saying. I’m a much more deliberate problem — decision maker, there’s a point that I keep coming back to. Some people want to say well as president , you’re supposed to know everything. No you, don’t. I believe in having in all the information as much of it as I possibly can, rather than making a decision or making a statement about whether I totally agreed [or] didn’t agree, when I wasn’t privy to the entire situation. There might be some things there that might have caused me to feel differently. So I’m not trying to hedge on the questions. It’s just that, that’s my nature as a businessman. I need to know the facts as much as possible. I need to hear all of the alternatives. For example . . . you might have mentioned that even within the administration there were different views. I would want to hear all those views, look at all the information, and then I make the decision as the commander in chief. So this is the only point I’m trying to make.

JS: So I’m not clear then. What was the parts that you [were] criticizing the president for, for how he handled it?

Cain: Okay, the opposition that wanted to overthrow Qaddafi. Who are they? How organized are they? How strong are they? Who would be the apparent leader? Now that they have succeeded, did they have a plan for how they were going to govern? Or are you going to end up now with a country in complete chaos? This is what I mean by –

JS: Sorry, but if they didn’t have that, then would you back off and not have gotten us involved?

Cain: It would depend upon which part they didn’t have. What I’m saying is, it’s not a clear yes, no answer, because all of those things, I think, should have been assessed. That’s what I’m saying.

JS: And you don’t think they were assessed?

Cain: I don’t know that they were or were not assessed. I didn’t see reports of that assessment.”

More on: Politics

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles