Herman Cain wants you to know that he doesn’t know much about the rest of the world:
I’m ready for the ‘gotcha’ questions and they’re already starting to come. And when they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I’m going to say, you know, I don’t know. Do you know?
And then I’m going to say how’s that going to create one job?
It’s hardly breaking news that Cain hasn’t bothered to learn much about foreign policy issues. He has already been asked, and completely failed to answer, “gotcha” questions on such obscure topics as the war in Afghanistan and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If voters want someone well-informed on international affairs, they won’t be supporting Herman Cain, but we already knew that. What I find interesting about this statement is that it puts a lower priority on one of the main things for which the President is actually constitutionally responsible (formulating and executing foreign policy) than it does on something that he can at best indirectly affect through preferences on fiscal policy and regulation (“creating” jobs).
Cain may have the electoral politics of this right. The vast majority of voters doesn’t vote on foreign policy, and many of those who do aren’t demanding that candidates know much in detail about the rest of the world. How many voters who were likely to vote for Cain will be put off by this exchange? You can probably number them in the dozens nationwide.
Yes, obviously, the economy matters the most to almost all voters, and presidential candidates and incumbents prosper or fail depending on the state of economy, but I would say the most important aspect of presidential competence concerns his handling of national security and foreign policy issues. Cain treats it almost as if it were irrelevant, and he does this because he assumes correctly that treating it this way does him no harm with almost all voters. No wonder we have so little accountability for foreign policy blunders.
P.S. I should add that the thing that has sent Perry into a tailspin in the last few weeks wasn’t his ridiculous non-answer on a foreign policy question, but the combination of his “heartless” remark and his inability to spit out a halfway decent attack on Romney’s many changed positions. As long as Cain can keep delivering short, digestible slogans and zingers, he will probably not have many problems in future debates. The professionals and activists who care about these issues weren’t likely to back him anyway.