Monday, November 14, 2011

Herman Cain on Libya: "The Spotted or Herbaceous Backson"?

I had deja vu when I listened to this exchange between the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Herman Cain:
Asked if he agrees with the president on Libya, Cain looks up and says, "OK, Libya." He then pauses for a moment.

"President Obama supported the uprising, correct?" he asks, speaking carefully. "President Obama called for the removal of Qaddafi - just want to make sure we're talking about the same thing before I say yes I agree, or no I didn't agree. I do not agree with the way he handled it for the following reason - nope, that's a different one."

Cain then pauses for about five seconds.

"I gotta go back and see - um, I got all this stuff twirling around in my head," he says. "Specifically, what are you asking me. Did I agree or not disagree with Obama?"
It was the "Specifically, what are you asking me" that triggered the prefiguration. It's in The House at Pooh Corner, Ch. 5, "In Which Rabbit has a Busy Day, and We Learn What Christopher Robin Does in the Mornings."

Rabbit finds a note from Christopher Robin that says 

and runs off to Owl for a consult. "Read that," he demands. And:
Owl took Christopher Robin's notice from Rabbit and looked at it nervously. He could spell his own name, WOL, and he could spell Tuesday so that you knew it wasn't Wednesday, and he could read quite comfortably when you weren't looking over his shoulder and saying "Well?" all the time, and he could---

"Well?" said Rabbit.

"Yes," said Owl, looking Wise and Thoughtful. "I see what you mean. Undoubtedly."

Things continue in this vein for a while, until Rabbit mentions that Christopher Robin left a similar notice the day before, and Owl has an idea.
"Tell me, Rabbit," he said, "the exact words of the first notice. This is very important. Everything depends on this. The exact  words of the first notice."

"It was just the same as that one really."

Owl looked at him, and wondered whether to push him off the tree; but feeling that he could always do it afterwards, he tried once more to find out what they were talking about.

"The exact words, please," he said, as if Rabbit hadn't spoken.

"It just said, "Gon out. Backson."  Same as this, only this says 'Bisy Backson' too."

"Ah!" said Owl. "Now we know where we are."
Once on this solid ground, Owl can consider the question before him with his wonted eloquence:
"It is quite clear what has happened, my dear Rabbit," he said. "Christopher Robin has gone out somewhere with Backson. He and Backson are busy together. Have you seen a Backson anywhere about in the Forest lately?"

"I don't know," said Rabbit. "That's what I came ask you. What are they like?"

"Well," said Owl, "the Spotted or Herbaceous Backson is just a ----"

"At least," he said, "it's really more of a ---"

"Of course," he said, "it depends on the ----"

"Well," said Owl, "the fact is," he said, "I don't know what they're like," said Owl frankly.
Cain is equally frank, eventually, about his unknown unknowns:
"I'm a much more deliberate decision maker," he adds. "It's a point that I keep coming back to. Some people want to say, well as president you're supposed to know everything. No you don't. I believe in having all of the information, as much of it as I possibly can, rather than making a decision or making a statement about whether I totally agreed or didn't agree when I wasn't privy to the entire situation. There might be some things there that might have caused me to feel differently. So I'm not trying to hedge on questions. It's just that that's my nature as a businessman. I need to know the facts as much as possible."

When the interviewer says he isn't clear on Cain's criticism, he reiterates that he is discussing questions about the opposition to Qaddafi, saying considerations like their ability to govern had to be taken into account.

Asked if he was saying if the opposition was not up to certain standards he would not have gotten as involved as Mr. Obama, Cain responded, "It would depend upon which part they didn't have."

"See what I'm saying is it's not a clear yes/no answer because all of those things I think should have been assessed. That's what I'm saying," he said.
The fact is, I don't know what they're like, Cain said frankly.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. Cain the absurd compared to a lovely, gentle satire with a children's book. Bravo.