Head, meet desk. Desk, head.
There are two videos making the rounds today, both featuring an interview Herman Cain did with reporter from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
First one, Cain’s answer to a question about President Obama’s handling of Libya:
God. Awful. Answers.
The Cain campaign says he was operating on four hours sleep.
That’s no excuse. If he’s not fit mentally for an interview, then he should reschedule. But I don’t think this was a lack of sleep, but a lack of knowledge.
And I’m not alone. Here comes the linkaround:
His bumbling responses to the Journal-Sentinel are particularly troubling, because it’s not like they are questions that should have caught him off guard. Collective bargaining was the political issue in Wisconsin this year, so of course he was going to get a question on it. And Republicans just had a foreign policy debate on Saturday. As an aside, Mark Hemingway raises an good point on Twitter: “Why is Cain talking to a Wisconsin editorial board anyway? Shouldn’t he be in Iowa?”
To be clear, I don’t mean to suggest that Cain is a stupid man. He was clearly a talented businessman, for instance. But there are a lot of intelligent business people who don’t follow domestic and international politics that closely. And that’s totally fine for most people. But it’s inexcusable for somebody running for president.
It’s his continued lack of preparedness on, and familiarity with, basic domestic and foreign policy issues. Sorry, Cain fans. Tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. But like Rick Perry, Herman Cain is just not ready for prime time. The real Cain scandal: He can barely form a coherent thought on Libya when put on the spot and garbles collective bargaining 101 facts.
You won’t believe me until you click play but this is much worse than Perry’s brain lock at the debate last week. Perry lost his train of thought; Cain doesn’t have a train at all here, to the point where he needs confirmation from the interviewer of what Obama’s position on Libya actually was. Eventually he produces some boilerplate about not supporting the opposition until you’re sure who’s in it and of course not making a decision as president until he has all the information, which is a standard Cain fallback talking point whenever he gets in trouble on a question, but the first two minutes or so are pure agony. The board actually took pity on him, I think, by not following up.
Sorry guys, but I’ve been behind Cain for a long time and I can’t support him any longer. He is sounding worse and worse as time goes on and that Libya answer…it was horrible. It’s like he’s afraid to say the wrong thing and his fumbling around was cringe worthy. There are other videos at the Journal Sentinel and you can go there and listen and read. I don’t think anything he could say now will convince me to support him. I need competence in a president.
Another look at Newt?
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.
I’ve actually been surprised at how resilient Cain has been in the polls after the sexual harassment scandals broke. But those scandals aren’t going anywhere (Sharon Bialt’s boyfriend from the 1990′s told the media today that she told him of the alleged sexual assault contemporaneously to hit happening), and those problems on top of these problems mean, what?
Time to rally around Newt Gingrich, as one reader emailed me earlier today?
Maybe so. Not that I like Newt Gingrich.
Yeah, I know what you mean, Rob.
As an unabashedly strong passenger on the Cain Train, I’m having a hard time dismissing these gaffes. I don’t expect a candidate to know everything, but I expect him to be able to recognize two things: what he knows and what he doesn’t know. And I expect him to build a team around him to show him what he doesn’t know he doesn’t know.
And I expect him to work his hind end off to reinforce what he knows and learn what he doesn’t. He doesn’t have to be an expert on it, but at least have a working knowledge.
Cain’s ability to do that has left me doubting his main selling point, that he’ll rely on advisers to help him identify the problem and take the right actions to solve it. If Cain’s team in fact let him go into this interview fatigued, they are once again negligent. Couple that with the failure to handle the sexual harassment allegations well and you have, in my book, grounds for issuance of walking papers.
But since Cain has decided to dance with the one that brung him, he shows a lack of ability to make the necessary decisions for correcting the problems with his candidacy.
Finally, can you consider the impact would be if Cain took the stage with President Obama and showed the lack of depth on issues that he showed in Milwaukee? It would be devastating.
I’m not confident Cain is ready for prime time. It’s that simple.
Let me know where you stand in the comments.