Political Correction

Herman Cain Says Obama Emboldened “The So-Called Palestinian People”

October 28, 2011 12:07 pm ET

Herman Cain

Herman Cain, the comically misinformed and unlikely GOP frontrunner, is trying to overcome the fact that he's been ridiculed for knowing nothing about foreign policy. To overcome his obvious deficiencies in this arena, Cain is apparently memorizing the names of 20 world leaders in case he's asked to comment on some foreign issue. But it's pretty clear that not knowing the names of world leaders is the least of Cain's many problems when it comes to commenting on world affairs.

For example, in an interview with Israel Hayom, a far-right Israeli daily owned by Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, Cain claimed the administration's weakness pushed what he calls "the so-called Palestinian people" to the U.N.:

What is your position on the Obama administration's Middle East policy?

I believe that his lack of a firm stand regarding Israel has emboldened Israel's enemies, and America's enemies. When I was in Israel in August, I met with the deputy prime minister and he said that this was one of the biggest concerns that they had. Because he threw Israel under the bus with the statement about the 1967 borders. He just threw them under the bus. He threw Prime Minister Netanyahu under the bus prior to his visit to America. In a Cain administration there would be no question in the minds of the world and the American people that we would stand with Israel. No question. It wasn't the president's right to suggest that they change those borders and I didn't agree with that. For example, I think that the so-called Palestinian people have this urge for unilateral recognition because they see this president as weak. I haven't seen all the facts but I think this whole assassination attempt [alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington] was another example of seeing this president as weak, in that regard. So, weakness invites attack and I think that he has projected a sense of weakness.

To be clear, the Palestinian decision to go to the U.N. was based on the view that the United States invariably and unconditionally backs Israel in bilateral negotiations.

Washington has lost much of its ability to affect change on the issue, or to prevent the Palestinians from going to the U.N. because the U.S. is not seen as an honest broker by what Cain calls the "so-called Palestinian people." As the New American Foundation's Jonathan Guyer points out, "That Abbas followed through with the application over the vehement objections and a veto threat by Obama himself offered the clearest evidence to date of Washington's loss of influence over Palestinians, by far the weaker of the two parties in conflict."

In the very unlikely event that Cain is elected president, his reaffirmation that the U.S. would "stand with Israel" no matter the circumstances is unlikely to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table, especially since Cain has said that he'd offer "nothing" to the Palestinians to bring about peace.

Cain's decision to address the perception that he knows nothing about foreign policy by repeatedly invoking Israel — especially when the question is about the broader Middle East — demonstrates, yet again, that he doesn't understand the issues involved and that he really sees his lack of knowledge as a strength. As he told a gathering of the Nueces County Republican Women recently, "Relative to foreign policy, I don't need to know the details of every one of the issues we face."

Copyright © 2010 Media Matters Action Network. All rights reserved.