Herman Cain Tries To Explain What He Thinks About Foreign Policy, And Fails

This interview between Herman Cain and the editors of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is even more painful to watch than Rick Perry’s 53 second “Ooops”:

No debate formats, no moderators, no time limits. And this is what Herman Cain gives us. Pathetic.

Update: NBC’s Chuck Todd posted this on Twitter:

Campaig[n] says Cain was on 4 hrs sleep: “Didn’t say anything wrong or in accurate, it just took him a while to recall the specifics of Libya.”

First of all, taken as a whole Cain’s answer was still a muddle of incoherent nonsense so, the last part of the statement is pure puffery. If the first part is true, then the campaign was wrong for letting the candidate go into an important interview, that was being recorded on video, unprepared and exhausted. Either way, this make Cain look incompetent and foolish.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Africa, US Politics, World Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    You, Doug, have a distinct point of view on Libya. You’re a lawyer.

    I have a distinct (different) point of view on Libya. I’m a YA book author.

    Neither of us is running for president. (For good reason, in both cases.) But either of us would clean his clock.

    How do people convince themselves that they should vote for a man who knows less about foreign policy than a high school dropout kid book writer? And I don’t man just a little less, I mean a lot less.

    My 14 year-old knows more. Literally. A 9th grader. This guy is less-informed than a 9th grader.

  2. Neil Hudelson says:

    I wonder how often Cain’s answers in interviews are this painful. I’m guessing more than we see, but they are edited down for the sake of time.

  3. @michael reynolds:

    I cannot answer that question because this is just nuts.

  4. @Neil Hudelson

    To be honest, I don’t think many reporters were subjecting Cain to “hard” questioning until he started rising in the polls.:

  5. Simon H Gedney says:

    Foreign policy is not as nuanced as many people make it out to be. You are good to your friends. You give hell to your enemies. You reserve special hell for your former friends who have now become friends of your adversaries; this serves to keep present friends in line. All diplomacy and negotiation must be back by an unspoken threat of violence.

    No matter how much I’ve studied ancient, modern, European, Chinese, Middle Eastern or Latin American history, those principles hold across all.


  6. @Simon H Gedney:

    Cain wasn’t even displaying the minimal amount of awareness of the situation that a person who does nothing but read the newspaper every day would have about this issue.

  7. MM says:

    @Simon H Gedney:

    Foreign policy is not as nuanced as many people make it out to be. You are good to your friends. You give hell to your enemies.

    Except the very concept of friends and enemies is incredibly nuanced. Is Israel a friend? After all, we sell them and give them a staggering amount of weaponry and armaments. However, at the same time, they have a massive counterintelligence operation running against the US at any given time. So does that make them an enemy? Are the Saudis our enemy? We openly support the House of Saud, yet they pay for Wahabbist schools that foment extremism. We have long considered the Iranian government to be an enemy, yet the population there is probably more pro-western than in most other Middle-eastern countries.

  8. WR says:

    Now Cain complains that this five minutes was “taken out of context,” which brings a whole new meaning to the concept of “context.”

    Also, he only had four hours sleep so “it took him a while to recall the specifics of Libya.” Because it all happened so long ago, you know.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    Here’s the thing: at the end of a long, tiring day, after three fingers of Scotch (and I have big fingers) I can still explain my thinking on Libya. In order to be as clueless as Cain I would have to also smoke a little weed and be jet-lagged. Not just-trans-continental jet-lag, either, it would have to be west coast to Europe at least. Also, decent weed.

  10. grumpy realist says:

    Hell, to be that incoherent I’d have to have the jet lag, five shots of scotch, and trying to speak in Russian.

    (Note: with practice it’s amazing how jet lagged/drunk/whatever you can get and still speak coherently in a foreign language. It’s when you’re trying to translate between two sets of monolingual drunks oh la la…)

  11. grumpy realist says:

    Also–if this is what happens to Cain on 4 hours of sleep how in the hell is he going to handle those 3AM emergency phone calls from Beijing?

  12. matt b says:

    Remember it’s your fault if your poor (according to Cain). But if you fail in an interview, that’s because of lack of sleep. 🙂

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Dan Drezner said it best:

    “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. ”

  14. Ron Beasley says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It seems to have worked with Palin!