Herman Cain: The First 48
-On Saturday, before somewhere between ten and fifteen thousand people on a ninety-degree day, Herman Cain announced his candidacy for President of The United States. At the same time, he released this very well-done video announcement:
[Video swiped from Stacy McCain]
I was impressed as Hell by it. However, one question did occur: Considering the hat he wears in it, does this mean that if Mr. Cain gets elected, the Axis of Fedorable Members get free passes to The White House? Well, Stacy?
Please see Jim Geraghty’s perceptive review here.
-On Sunday, while being interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Mr. Cain stumbled regarding the situation between Israel and the so-called Palestinians and then on American foreign policy.
He started off very, very well:
WALLACE: — the Cain doctrine is: don’t mess Israel. You mess with Israel, you are messing with the U.S.
WALLACE: Question: what would President Cain offer the Palestinians to make peace?
CAIN: Nothing. Because I’m not convinced that the Palestinians are really interested in peace. If the Palestinians come to the table with Israel, with a genuine offer that the two of them can sit down and negotiate, the United States would, in fact, try to facilitate that discussion.
But if we look at history, it has been clear that the Palestinians have always wanted to push Israelis and push Israel for more and more and more. I don’t agree with that. I respect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for taking a stand and saying they cannot give that up.
Secondly, it’s Israel’s decision, not President Obama’s decision to where the borderlines ought to be.
Bravo. Well said, strongly said. He pulled no punches and told it like it is. But then Mr. Cain stumbled:
WALLACE: Where do you stand on the right of return?
CAIN: The right of return? The right of return?
WALLACE: The Palestinian right of return.
CAIN: That is something that should be negotiated. That is something that should be negotiated.
WALLACE: Do you think the Palestinian refugees, the people who were kicked out of the land in 1948, should be able or should have any right to return to Israeli land?
CAIN: Yes. But under — but not under Palestinian conditions. Yes. They should have a right to come back if that is a decision that Israel wants to make.
Back to — it’s up to Israel to determine the things they will accept. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it real clear in his statement following the statement that President Obama made. They are wiling to make some concessions. They are willing to give on a lot of things. They are willing to be compassionate.
I don’t think they have a big problem with people returning. The issue is there are some things that they simply do not want to give in on.
I understand that most folks don’t know about this whole ‘right of return’ business and I agree with Jim Geraghty that:
All Cain’s comment did was reveal that he hasn’t given more than a moment’s thought to what the Palestinians — you know, the folks who elected Hamas to run their government and who danced on 9/11 — are demanding. I suppose that if you cling to the idea that only thing holding back peace in our time is a sufficient number of White House all-nighters on creative cartography, then yes, you would want a president familiar with “right of return” and the whole cavalcade of Palestinian demands. If you think the root of the problem is a culture that celebrates suicide bombers more than doctors and entrepreneurs, then this looks like small potatoes; all the presidential familiarity in the world with the “right of return” argument won’t make much difference.
You can have your president who has spent a great deal of time studying how to please the Palestinians. I’d much prefer a president who focused more on what Americans want.
The main error Herman Cain made was in attempting to answer the question. He floundered. He should have said something to the effect that ‘I haven’t given it much thought, Chris, because there are bigger issues at stake here, including the survival of Israel’. He shouldn’t have tried to devise an answer on the spot about something he had not thought about.
But it also must be said that Mr. Cain should have been better prepared and familiar with the concept — we expect that of Presidential candidates, especially in times like these when the world is a very dangerous place.
He did issue a ‘clarifying’ statement today [God, I hate those] that was quite good:
I have long been a vocal and unwavering supporter of our friend and ally, Israel.
All Israeli governments have rejected the “right” of large numbers of Arabs or Palestinians to return to what is now the state of Israel. Such an en masse return would unbalance Israel’s demographic makeup as the world’s sole Jewish state.
In this light, should the “right of return” “be negotiated,” as I said, “if that is a decision that Israel wants to make”? Certainly, and to reiterate, it’s Israel’s call. Israel has a long record of being more gracious to its enemies than its enemies are to it, and this would be yet another example of that. But is the “right of return” a moral imperative? Is it something Israel must grant? Is it something the United States ought to encourage?
The answer is no on every count.
Our policy on Palestinian affairs must be wholly a function of our policy on Israeli affairs. Israel is a friend. Israel is an ally. Israel shares common values with us. Israel shares common interests with us, especially in the eradication of terrorism and the need for bringing peace to the region. As President, I will never lose sight of these basic facts. Any aspirant to the Presidency must have the unshakable US-Israeli alliance at the core of his or her strategic vision in the Middle East.
As your President, I would.
Well said, but, unless it gets out as much as the ‘Cain Stumbled’ story did, it will be ineffective — first impressions and all that.
Stacy McCain commented:
Cain was asked a question he was not prepared to answer, and it looked bad. As a result, pundits who didn’t much care for Cain’s candidacy — including Jonah Goldberg and Michael Barone — are in told-you-so mode.
These things happen. Herman Cain is not a foreign-policy wonk and stumbled over a phrase with which he was unfamilar. The pundits were shocked, but I’m not sure how many grassroots GOP voters in Iowa reacted with the same horror.
probably none, but it didn’t look good. Perception means so much.
It was a rookie mistake and he made the classic mistake and kept digging the hole. Mr. Cain needs to hire some good people [not the from the GOP Establishment] and go to school on some of the issues. He’s got to be better than good because the long knives are out for him on the Left and on the Will/Krauthammer Right.
Herman Cain really should hire like Stacy McCain and Ali Akbar, along with consulting with people like Allen West, Mark Steyn – those wise types who are not part of the Establishment.
He’s got to do this quickly so the momentum he’s building does not get halted.
-Further along in the interview, Mr. Cain reiterated a position that does not come off well at all:
WALLACE: We have been at war in Afghanistan for almost 10 years. And yet you say — and you say it quite proudly — you have no plan for what to do in Afghanistan. You’d have to wait until you got into office, until you met with the experts, until you met with military officials and then you decided.
Don’t you owe to people who are thinking of voting for you to give them some idea about what you would do about a major U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan?
CAIN: I do. And here’s what I owe them — I owe them the right approach to the right decision such that we’re not there 10 more years.
WALLACE: So, what is the right approach?
CAIN: The right approach is: the day I’m elected president, I will start on that plan such that the day I was sworn in, I will be able to implement the plan.
WALLACE: But that doesn’t tell anybody what you’re — I mean, do you support counterinsurgency or counterterrorism?
CAIN: Chris, let’s go back — let’s go back — let’s go back to the fundamental question. We’ve got to work on the right problem. I think it is disingenuous to tell the American people what I would do when I don’t have the intelligence information. I don’t have all of the factors that are affecting this particular situation.
I owe the American people a responsible decision and a responsible plan. And I don’t think any candidate can responsibly say what they would do if they are elected president.
Mr. Cain: you make a good case for not getting into specifics, but you must articulate a guiding philosophy that will govern you if you become Commander-In-Chief. People want and need to know you have a world view that is based on some solid principles. Now, maybe you do, maybe you think you’ve articulated it, but it’s not translating very well. Please, be more specific about your general outlook on a very dangerous and volatile world. You will get no where fast if you do not indicated as clearly as you do on so many domestic issues that you, as President, would be ready to resume the role of Leader of The Free World. In addition to being the Executive head of government, the President is head of state and, thus, people look to that person for inspiration. Clarity.
As Jimmie Bise puts it so well:
…I understand that world affairs are sloppy and there often isn’t an easy simple answer. I get that no Chief Executive is going to have a particularly detailed policy before they get a few skilled and experienced people around them who can lend their knowledge to its crafting.
On the other hand, I do expect that every candidate for President have at least a working knowledge of what is going on around the world and the ability to share it. We voters are smart enough to understand that a candidate like Cain doesn’t have access to as much information as the President — we don’t expect him to be Henry Kissinger.
Whatever he does, it needs to happen quickly. He’s not such a darling of the talk show circuit that he can get as quick a second-chance as Newt Gingrich got today, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea for him to try. He can still claw back most of the momentum he lost, not with the Paul Rahes of the world who have found the excuse to dismiss him they wanted but with the Claire Berlinskis. I suspect that she, and most of the GOP electorate, are willing to forgive him this mistake if he’s willing to show them he learned a lot from it.
Dead solid perfect.
Please understand, Mr. Cain, I make these points because I want you to be a contender. You’re on my short list for support. You’ve got so much to offer this country and you’re a good man. Don’t do yourself and your beliefs a disservice.