The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Herman Cain Issues Clarification

Posted on | May 23, 2011 | 30 Comments

Walking back his widely-criticized remarks on Fox News Sunday about the Palestinian “right of return”:

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.

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.

Jimmie Bise Jr. at Sundries Shack has some valuable thoughts.

UPDATE: “Will Cain get the Palin treatment? You betcha!” Josh Painter says, adding: “The Hermanator desperately needs a Peter Schweizer.”

Actually, I’m sure Cain has foreign-policy advisers, but apparently the candidate had not studied the Palestinian issue in such depth as to recognize instantly the phrase “right of return” as something that friends of Israel are obligated to oppose. We can expect that (a) Cain will undergo intensive preparation to prevent such stumbles in the future, and (b) the video clip of his Fox News Sunday appearance will be replayed endlessly by his enemies. This is how the game is played.


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