Cain On Fox News Sunday

A pretty good appearance, though it’s hard to actually look good when Chris Wallace is asking the questions – Wallace probes at weak points and generally kicks your rear end on those. Lots of people don’t like him as a result of that; I think it makes him a good interviewer.

Three areas where Wallace screwed Cain up, I think. First, and worst, was when Cain was stumped on the “right of return” question vis-a-vis Israel and Palestine. Cain didn’t know what Wallace was talking about, and gave a general answer about how it’s Israel’s call. Of course, the Israelis have already said the idea that millions of Palestinian Arab refugees repopulating Israel proper and thus destroying the Jewish state through demographics is a non-starter.

So today, Cain’s camp issued a clarification…

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.

He should have brought this stuff in during the appearance. But he wasn’t really prepared for the question. That happens when you’re in the early stages of your first presidential campaign. Cain’s general point on Israel and Palestine, though, was fantastic – nothing ought to be offered to the Palestinians because they’ve shown time and time again they don’t want peace. But he blew the right of return question; it’s fair to say that.

Another point was when Wallace hit him on the Fair Tax and brought up a government study which said you’d have to peg the Fair Tax rate at 34 percent instead of the 23 percent Cain is talking about. Cain said it’s all about the assumptions which go into the study, and the study’s assumptions were wrong in his estimation (and those of Fair Tax proponents). What he could have said was that government experts – with CBO as an example – are the perfect example of “garbage in, garbage out” and that Rep. Paul Ryan proved that during the runup to the Obamacare vote. And then directed folks to independent studies showing something different. Overall, his answer on the Fair Tax was a pretty good one – the number one selling point for the Fair Tax is that it wipes out the IRS and all the special carve-outs for lobbying groups.

Cain’s answer on his having suggested that we don’t raise the debt ceiling will probably get bandied about a good bit, but I liked it. He’s right that when you’re working on this stuff at the last minute rather than preparing the ground for it you can’t make coherent policy, and as such the debt ceiling is going to have to be increased in return for the best deal Boehner and the Republicans can get. My only quibble is that he shouldn’t have accepted Wallace’s formulation that prioritizing federal expenses to “pay the Chinese first;” a much better formulation is that the government needs to pay its creditors first if it expects to get more credit ever again and this problem will worsen exponentially should interest rates go up.

But on the whole, he was solid. And he definitely looks like he has more enthusiastic support – and fairly large-scale support, based on the big crowd at his announcement Saturday – than anybody else in the race to date.



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