Bloggers are already billing this as Herman Cain’s “oops” moment, but I’m not so sure. Yes, it’s bad – lots of long awkward pauses as Cain appears to frantically scour his brain for rehearsed lines on the topic. But to really be appalled by this you’d also have to take Cain seriously enough on foreign policy to find it surprising. To his credit, he is able to correctly identify Qaddafi as Libya’s former leader, and by the end he seems to recall that we’ve had a military intervention there. Expectations, met.
Beyond that, what made Rick Perry’s moment so awful was more the setting than the actual stumble. If you’re going to forget a point, you’re much better off doing it during an interview with a regional newspaper than in the middle of a nationally televised debate.
It’s embarrassing that one of the top Republican presidential candidate would get so flustered by a basic question, and for that Cain should get an obligatory slap on the wrist. But something tells me Cain’s supporters aren’t backing him because of his foreign policy chops. If they didn’t connect the dots after the Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan comments and other assorted clues, they’re probably not going to get it from this.