Weigel

Dept. of Things Your Spokesman Should Not Admit

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 21: Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain steps out of his campaign bus to at a rally where he unveiled his ‘Opportunity Zone’ economic plan in front of the Michigan Central Station, an abandoned train depot, October 21, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Cain has reportedly proposed changes to his ‘9-9-9’ tax plan to exempt taxes for those living at or below the poverty line and businesses investing in ‘Opportunity Zones’ (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The great Josh Rogin pulls this factoid out of Herman Cain’s new-ish spokesman, J.D. Gordon, who has produced a whole foreign policy shop for his candidate.

[A]fter Cain famously announced this month he did not know the name of the president of “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan,” the campaign made up a list of over 20 foreign leaders for Cain to commit to memory.

Over 20 foreign leaders? At the low end, that would be a bit more than 10 percent of the world’s heads of government, but let’s be honest – most reporters couldn’t name half of those guys. (Who’s the president of South Sudan? No Googling.) If we’re charitable to Cain, and assume he knows who runs Canada and Mexico but needed some trivia answers, he’s smart. We’re nearly at the 12th anniversary of the interview WHDH-TV conducted of George W. Bush, in which Andy Hiller stumped the future president with questions about the president of Chechnya and prime minister of India.* Bush, at the time, was beset by accusations of intellectual feebleness. Cain has the same problem, with a twist – he’s a self-made black guy who doesn’t pretend to know everything, and not a Yale legacy whose dad was president.

So, good prep. Good for Rogin for drawing it out. Bad for Gordon that he admits it.

The president of South Sudan is Salva Kiir Mayardit.

*Bush became president, while Hiller remains at the TV station – possibly a more impressive feat, given what’s happened to the media in 12 years.