A lot of controversy was stirred up on the right recently about Herman Cain’s comments on a hypothetical ‘one soldier for all Gitmo prisoners’ swap, which he gave to Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room on CNN. Influential blog Ace of Spades reacted in horror that a Republican candidate could even contemplate such a trade, let alone endorse one.
But that he would authorize such a hypothetical trade is not what Herman Cain said, or meant. He made it clear that it was a “judgment call” and he would need to see all the facts before making such a decision. Apparently, that is not good enough for those schooled in the “one never negotiates with terrorists” policy.
Cain was set up by Blitzer, who posed a scenario to get him to give an imagined answer. His answer would then be treated like that is his policy, and used as a cudgel to bludgeon conservatives off of his candidacy. While it appears that Cain had some coaching on dealing with answering imaginary scenarios, it was not drilled into his head enough that one does not answer “hypotheticals.”
The point is that Herman Cain never said he would make an exchange like Netanyahu had authorized – one thousand terrorists for one soldier. Cain goes out of his way to say he didn’t have all the facts at hand, or whether Netanyahu was right or wrong. Then Blitzer uses this question to frame a second question, about a potential exchange of one U.S. soldier for all the prisoners at Gitmo, and this is what Cain said: “I could see myself making that kind of transfer.”
That answer is all the right is focusing on, a hedged comment that he could see himself making that kind of transfer. But what else did Cain say in the rest of the interview surrounding that quote?
Apparently CNN doesn’t want you to know exactly what Herman Cain said, because it has altered the text in the transcript to bury his comments. But I have put them out below:
BLITZER: Did the Israeli government of Prime Minister Netanyahu do the right thing in exchanging 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for one captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who had been held by Hamas for five years?
CAIN: I would have to know all of the considerations he made to say yes or no, because I’m sure that there were a lot of considerations that he had to make in order to make that decision.
On the surface, you would say one for hundreds doesn’t make any sensuous [sic – sense!]. But here’s how I make decisions. And this is why I respect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so much. He looks at all of the facts before he makes a judgment call. We don’t know all of the facts.
BLITZER: Could you imagine if you were president — we’re almost out of time — and there was one American soldier who had been held for years, and the demand was al Qaeda or some other terrorist group, you have got to free everyone at Guantanamo Bay, several hundred prisoners at Guantanamo.?
Could you see yourself, as president, authorizing that kind of transfer?
CAIN: I could see myself authorizing that kind of transfer, but what I would do is, I would make sure that I got all of the information, I got all of the input, considered all of the options. And then the president has to be the president and make a judgment call. I could make that call if I had to.
This is much ado about nothing. So Cain could see himself authorizing “that kind” of transfer, but it would have to be a judgment call, and he would need all the facts, if he had to? [Continued on Political Crush]