(Image from the Huffington Post)
Rick Perry's screw up during the Republican presidential debate last week was bad. In case you forgot, Perry announced that he would do away with three government departments and then promptly forgot the third one (the department of energy).
As covered in Daily Maverick's First Thing:
"It’s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone – commerce, education and the um, what’s the third one there? Let’s see. Oh five – commerce, education and the um, um” It wasn’t five. It was three. Ron Paul suggested the environmental protection agency, which Perry agreed to, and then backtracked on it and fumbled around again. We discovered later that he meant the department of energy.
It was cringeworthy. We all laughed.
His mistake, though, is very different from Sunday's somewhat bizarre Herman Cain answer on Libya, while being interviewed by the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal. Start watching about 40 seconds in.
While Perry actually does know the name of the department of energy, Herman Cain's answer to this somewhat gentle question about a very recent high-profile issue was pathetic. Especially for someone who is looking to become commander-in-chief of the world's most powerful army showed a severe lack of understanding. In fact, Cain had no idea what he was talking about. Initially I was prepared to accept his reasoning that he would have tried to understand the opposition to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi (whom he did not mention by name) more thoroughly until I realised he gave precisely the same answer relating to Afghanistan in an earlier Republican presidential debate.
In an answer to one question, Cain showed he didn't know what the US approach to Libya was, nor was he able to answer a foreign policy question differently to when he was last asked about US-involved conflict in an Arab nation. Quite simply, AFGHANISTAN IS NOT LIBYA.
This is different to people saying North Korea when they mean South Korea, which is a mere slip of the tongue, and far closer to people who think that Saddam Hussein flew planes into the World Trade Centre which is an unfounded claim.
While I still think Rick Perry would make a terrible candidate for president, his gaffe is nowhere near as significant as Herman Cain's.