Saturday night follies with the GOP talking foreign policy

Cain's lack of details on foreign policy (or is it interest?) was exposed months ago when he confessed that he didn't know what the right-of-return was about in respect to Palestinian refugees. Then came his admission that he didn't know anything about neoconservatives. Basically, his response to what to do in Afghanistan is to rely on his generals, prompting CBS News anchor Scott Pelley to ask the Herminator how he would know when he should overrule those generals? The answer wasn't reassuring.

Herman Cain: The approach to makin' a critical decision, first make sure that you surround yourself with the right people. And I feel that I'll be able to make that assessment when we put together the cabinet and all of the people from the military, etcetera. You will know you're makin' the right decision when you consider all the facts and ask them for alternatives. It is up to the commander in chief to make that judgment call based upon all the facts.

And because I'll have mult— a multiple group of people offering different recommendations, this gives me the best opportunity to select the one that makes the most amount of sense. But ultimately, it's up to the commander in chief to make that decision.

But maybe I'm making the mistake of taking Cain too seriously.

Then there's this: an incisive and extremely funny piece written by T.A. Frank in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, who writes this of Cain's lack of policy smarts:

Let us pause here to make a necessarily severe assessment: to say that Herman Cain has an imperfect grasp of policy would be unfair not only to George W. Bush in 1999 but also to Britney Spears in 1999. Herman Cain seems like someone who, quite frankly, has never opened a newspaper.

CL strongly recommends reading the whole piece, especially the section of the story about why the Tea Party crowd - which is made up predominantly of white people over the age of 50 - has embraced Cain so much. Frank argues it's not to prove that they are not racist. No, a lot of it has to do with Cain's style, his presentation.

We wrote about this after seeing Cain in action at the CPAC Florida event, the day before he stunned the political world by winning the Florida Straw Poll. It wasn't in the words of his very average speech - it was how he said those words.

There can be no doubt that Cain draws on a deep American love of black American culture. Black music, black comedy and black oratory are integral to the cultural mainstream in a way that would have been unimaginable 50 years ago but is now taken for granted. This is no less true of the South, where Cain’s brand of blackness taps into shared religious faith and a love of the region. His manner of speaking only increases his appeal: 9-9-9 is NAN-NAN-NAN. Hill is HEE-oh. Quarter is KAW-tuh.

“To be an American person is to hear a certain warmth and honesty and genuineness in black cadence,” said John McWhorter, a linguistics professor at Columbia University. “That’s why Barack Obama was so deft in summoning it, at times, such as with the way he inflected ‘Yes, we can.’ ”

When I watched Cain at a rally in Rogersville, Tenn., each of his remarks was drawing a “That’s right!” from a group of older white men and women near me.

“Make sure you surround yourself with good people, and then put together the plans that make sense, that’s gonna fix stuff.”

“That’s right!”

“If you don’t know what the problem is, you’re never going to solve it.”

“That’s right!”

It’s impossible to imagine Mitt Romney having that sort of effect.

That says so much about the ardor you feel from people about Herman Cain, policy acumen be damned.

There has been alarmingly little discussion about foreign policy in the GOP race for president, so why not book a second debate in four days on the least watched night of television viewing of the week?

That's what happened Saturday night, as CBS News & the National Journal teamed up for a 90-minute debate from South Carolina, an hour of which was aired live on the broadcast network, the remaining time only available online.

It definitely had its entertaining moments, not least of which was holding one's breath every time Herman Cain was asked a question, which was often, being that the former Godfather's CEO is currently the co-front runner in the contest.

How'd he fare? Well, one anonymous Democrat told the National Journal that "It was a deer in the headlights performance."

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