Cain's Taliban 'Gaffe' Refuted by Cain Spokesman and Mere Minutes of Investigation

Oops, he supposedly did it again. Herman Cain, the GOP presidential candidate who has experience as a rocket scientist on his resume, made another allegedly "stupid" remark. Why, if you buy the press's accounts of his statements, it's hard to believe the guy can dress himself in the morning without hanging his pants over his head and putting his socks on his hands.

Here's what Cain said that has the ninnies at ThinkProgress aka ThinkRegress (whom I won't link) and the Politico all lathered up -- When Cain recounted how he wouldn't answer a reporter's non-specific question about Libya, he responded that he needed to know which aspect of President Obama's current "policy" (there is one?) he should address: "Do I agree with siding with the opposition? Do I agree with saying that Qadhafi should go? Do I agree that they now have a country where you’ve got Taliban and Al Qaeda that’s going to be part of the government? … Do I agree with not knowing the government was going to — which part was he asking me about? I was trying to get him to be specific and he wouldn’t be specific." Well, it turns out, in an update at Politico which ThinkRegress isn't posting, lest it disturb its meme of constant condescension, that a Cain spokesman identified an important Libyan official with Taliban connections lickety-split:

UPDATE: In an email, Cain spokesman J.D. Gordon points to Libyan military commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj as a sometime Taliban ally now prominent in the Libyan transitional government. Gordon cites a Reuters article from Nov. 11, profiling Belhadj’s role in Libya and noting that “after fighting with the Afghan Taliban [he] was captured and sent to Libya in 2004, where he was jailed until last year.”

Gordon referred to Belhadj as a “former Taliban-linked fighter in Afghanistan now leading the militia in Tripoli.” That’s plainly not the same thing as having “Taliban … that’s going to be part of the government,” as Cain said, but it’s a fair clarification of Cain’s point.

In response to the bolded clause: Oh really? A guy who has been a sometime Taliban ally is "now prominent in the Libyan transitional government," but he's automatically not going to be part of the government when the government isn't transitional any more? Is the Taliban only going to be "part of the government" if its mullah, lead imam, or ayatollah sits on a throne?

There's more to this, which casts doubt on ThinkRegress's smug, everybody-knows assertion that "Of course, the Taliban exists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not Libya," specifically this from the UK Telegraph in March, which I found in roughly three minutes of brutally exhaustive searching:

Hakim Alsady was named in the colonel's (Gaddafi's) rambling, paranoid speech on Thursday as one of the al-Qaeda men he blamed for the uprising. Mr Alsady told The Sunday Telegraph his days fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan are long over and he has moderated his political views. Since he returned to Libya in 2002 under an amnesty, Mr Alsady has lived quietly as a teacher.

He said he was surprised, and amused, to be singled out by Colonel Gaddafi for causing the revolution. "I want democracy as everyone else does, not an Islamic state," he said. "You cannot believe this crazy man. We have to get rid of him."

We all know that Mr. Alsady has to be telling the truth about his "moderated" political views and noninvolvement with the Taliban. "Former" terrorists and terrorist sympathizers neeeeeever lie. (/sarc)

And though Gaddafi was goofy, it's simply amazing how the former Libyan dictator, out of the millions of people in the country, "somehow" fingered Alsady of all people as being involved in the uprising. Also note that Alsady would appear to have been or to still be associated with both Al Qaeda and the Taliban, so Cain's naming of both groups in the same sentence is clearly not out of line. Alsady is more than likely far from the only person in post-overthrow Libya with current and/or past connections to both groups.

As far as I'm concerned, perhaps Cain should have mentioned the Taliban after Al Qaeda (however, in order of historical appearance on the world scene, the Taliban, whose origins go back to the mid-1980s, came before Al Qaeda, which was founded "sometime between August 1988 and late 1989"). But the Herminator turns out to be demonstrating more knowledge of what's going on in Libya than the people who supposedly have immersed themselves in the news of the world for years, but who still think they have the presumptive right to ridicule what has turned out to be Cain's fundamentally correct characterization of the situation.

Cain's fundamental correctness is of course unimportant to the press, whose mission appears to be to make Cain look like a buffoon at any cost -- even the truth. This is of course consistent with a media pattern of discrediting the intelligence of Republican presidential candidates and presidents going back at least 60 years. The New York Times in the 1950s was telling readers Dwight Eisenhower, who "only" orchestrated D-Day and commanded the Allies to victory in World War II, wasn't really that bright either.

Cross-posted at

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