Just days after primary candidate Rick Perry had his infamous oops moment in a national debate, a new interview with Herman Cain reveals the GOP presidential hopeful's own memory lapse: this one on the Libyan uprising and the Obama administration's part in it.
Cain's confusion over a simple question involving America's involvement in Libya, and whether he agreed with Obama's actions in the African country, has fast gone viral, and his lack of knowledge about both the country and its highly-publicized uprising has many laughing and many more shaking their heads.
Got All This Stuff Swirling Around in my Head.
In an embarrassing five minute segment of a recent Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel interview, Cain was asked the following question: Do you agree with President Obama on Libya, or not?
Okay, Libya... Cain said, before a sizable pause. He turned to the interviewer. President Obama supported the uprising, correct?
Cain then spent the next few minutes trying to learn about the Libyan uprising and America's involvement in it from the very man trying to discern his point of view on Obama's action.
Um... I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason... um... nope, that's a different one, Cain said, fidgeting in his chair before adding: I've got to go back and see, uh... got all this stuff swirling around in my head.
Cain was aware enough of the situation in Libya to know the name of the dictator deposed and the crimes he committed against his people, which seems to indicate greater knowledge of the country than fellow GOP candidate Michele Bachmann during her infamous Libya is in Africa gaffe.
He was unable however, to name any of the steps Obama and the U.S. took to aid the Libyan rebels, even trying to garner hints from the interviewer by repeatedly asking for specifics of American involvement that he might have done differently.
In the end however, Cain's biggest mistake in the interview was to continue to insist on his opposition to the Obama administration's actions, all while being unable both to name them and to suggest any alternatives.
I would have done a bigger job of determining who the opposition is, Cain said. And I'm sure that our intelligence people had some of that information. When the Journal-Sentinel interviewer asked what information he would have gathered, and how that might have affected U.S. involvement, Cain hedged again.
Nonetheless, he argued, he would have done a better job. I would have gone about accessing the situation differently, before remarking, which might have caused us to end up at the same place... [but] I would have done a better job accessing the situation... you know, before everything exploded.
Cain has however, been learning from the disastrous fallout of the sexual harassment scandal that has clouded his campaign success for weeks. In the final minutes of the interview, the Republican primary candidate prepped himself for the criticism sure to follow the interview's publishing, trying to spin the oops moment to his advantage.
Some people want to say: 'well, as president, you're supposed to know everything.' No, you don't! he told the interviewer. I'm not trying to hedge on the question, that's just my nature as a businessman, to know all the facts.
Foreign Policy Gaffes Part of Pattern
In the hours after the interview was posted on youtube, blogs and news circuits picked up the interview and ran with it. Have you ever read a book report written by a seventh grader who didn't actually read the book? one commenter wrote.
Others noted the irony of the memory lapse, dealing as it did with foreign policy. Cain had previously criticized Obama's handling of the uprising in Libya in a debate last spring, calling on the president to present clearer objectives for Libya and Syria when dealing with foriegn policy.
The interview itself however, came just days after the GOP candidate, declining to comment on whether he would accept a nomination for the vice presidency, said he would accept the position of Secretary of Defense. “That could be the one that I could be excited about,” Cain told conservative radio host Michael Savage on Nov. 12. To help the generals and commanders on the ground to get what they need, to do what they do best, and that is kick the you-know-what out of everyone in the world.”
The position of Secretary of Defense requires, of course, considerable foreign affairs knowledge. Cain did not however, opt for Secretary of State, a choice that would make his memory lapse on Libya all the more problematic, especially since the candidate has a history of insisting he doesn't need to know all the details of current foreign affairs.
Cain exhibited similar dodging during a CBS/National Journal debate that focused on foreign policy. Here however, the question was whether federal workers should receive collective bargaining rights. They already have it, don't they? he asked, before saying they should as long as it didn't put a burden on taxpayers.
Herman Cain doesn't need any more bad press. In his eagerness to say the right thing however, Cain revealed his own ignorance, however temporary, in a major U.S. policy issue, something that is sure to add yet another dent to his presidential campaign.
Below, watch Cain's oops moment with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: