Herman Cain is pro-choice: he believes that a woman who becomes pregnant as the result of rape should be able to *choose* between bearing her rapist’s child and going to jail.

Since Herman Cain seems to be having a hard time explaining his position on abortion, the spirit of post-partisanship calls on those of us who aren’t his friends politically to help out.

You can see where he’s pinned. Cain knows that he’s supposed to be anti-abortion, and that he’s also supposed to be for minimal government. The problem is that hasn’t been in politics long enough to believe the requisite number of contradictions before breakfast. So he managed to say that he was “pro-life” and that he believed in choice. That makes him sound like all the other pols who say they’re personally against abortion but believe in the right to choose. And he knows that “pro-choice” is about as popular with the base as Barack Obama. So Cain is backpedaling furiously, if not very coherently.

Cain’s actual position actually rather simple, and it makes him both anti-abortion and pro-choice.

See, he believes that a woman who becomes pregnant as the result of rape should be able to choose between bearing her rapist’s child or, alternatively, having a dangerous back-alley abortion and going to jail for it.

What could be fairer than that?

Footnote Cain isn’t nearly as dumb as Rick Perry, but he’s even more clueless about the issues than Sarah Palin was. I completely believe him when he says he doesn’t know what a neo-conservative is and doesn’t either know or care who’s the president of Uz-beki-beki-stan-stan.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

24 thoughts on “Clarification”

  1. I’m not going to hold Cain not knowing what a “neocon” is against him. Based on their usage of the term, most liberals don’t know what it means, either… At least Cain can admit he doesn’t know the meaning, which is, after all, the first step to learning. I’m not sure there’s any hope for liberals on that particular score.

    1. Acknowledgement of ignorance is the first step to learning only for those who want to learn. For those, like Cain, who wear their ignorance proudly, there is no hope.

    2. A “consevative” believes in restraint in government and maintaining traditions in legal order.
      A “neo-conservative” believes that war is good (profitable), more war is better (more profitable) and prepetual war is, is (oh, Oh, OHH, YES YES YESSS! I think I’ve… soiled my cod piece). To this end neo-cons believe in doing anything: stealing elections, lying to the public and allies, bleeding the national treasure (especially bleeding the national treasure, a feature not a bug), breaking international law and treaties and, well you know anything. And if the world economy has to be crashed in the process, hey stuff happens.
      And that restraint in government and traditions of law stuff: F*** all that. Let’s bomb somebody!

      1. Thanks for demonstrating that liberals don’t know what “neo-conservative” means, but won’t admit it. A good object example is always handy to get a point across.

        1. Oh there are lots of things neo-cons SAY they are about but I’m talking about what they DO.
          I don’t know where you have been for the last decade or so but here on planet earth we have all had a front row seat to the antics and results of neo-cons in charge and getting everything they want. It hasn’t been pretty.

  2. Mark, you could earn a living skewering Willard, Herman and the other seven moral midgets…
    You know there are about 15 more debates…
    And I tell you what would be a huge hot sell:

    Get some saucy liberals virtually together. For example, the likes of Stewart, Marshall, Kleiman, Taibbi, Colbert, Maher.
    Wire them up in the same chat room with a debate video feed, tie it to some worthy charities, and live blog the thing…
    You’d get a gogillion click-ins…

    I mean really, has there ever been nine republican halfwits putting on a public display of half-formed non sequiturs such as this? Ever?
    We ought to be living in the golden age of satire.
    Laughter wrapped in scorn is the best antidote for Peak Crazy.

    Someone needs to make this happen.
    We may never see nine brazen losers on the same stage again.

    1. I’m not sure I could deal with a political remake of Mystery Science Theater, but I’m willing to try.

  3. So, what does it mean, Brett? And who is acknowledged to be the first person to use the term? No fair peeking.

    And I do know. Maurice Isserman wrote his biography. No peeking, now.

    1. “Neo-cons” were a group of former liberals who converted to conservatism over disagreement with other liberals about foreign policy, particularly having to do with communism. They were distinguished from other conservatives primarily by their advocacy of activist government at home. In order to be a neo-con, you have to at one time not have been a conservative, that’s what the “neo” means. The term is mostly of historical significance today, the neocons having mostly died of old age by now.

      That’s from memory, no peeking.

      I’m not quite clear on what liberals mean by this term in the conservative lexicon, it seems to shift between “conservatives whose names sound Jewish” and “Conservatives who we particularly despise”; Both understandable in a historical context, but still wrong. I think this is a result of the liberal tendency to take terms identifying factions within conservatism, and simply use them as semantically empty epithets.

      1. Unlike conservatives, of course, who make Heculean efforts to distinguish between liberalism, leftism, communism, socialism, etc.

        Why do you make it so EASY, Bellmore?

        1. It’s not so much that I make it easy, as that you’re just going to do whatever you want, regardless of me.

          Of course conservatives get a bit hazy about the left’s internal terminology, too. But you expect the candidates of a party to by hip to THAT party’s fine distinctions, not the other’s.

      2. Brett’s definition is a bit dogmatic, and a bit wrong. He’s in no position to act as keeper of the definitional flame.

        Specifically, some neocons went full Republican on domestic policy (Krauthammer, NPod), while others didn’t (Wolfowitz). And there was a sharp different between liberal anticommunists and neocons over race. Brett might want to read up on Ocean Hill-Brownsville. And finally, there is the issue of Israel, which probably did not emerge full-blown until the Lebanon incursion. That is mostly significant within the Jewish community.

        But he’s right on the most important point. Whatever motivated the neoconservative movement is long gone. The term now means little more than Jewish-Republican-not-named-Eric-Cantor. It’s not a useful concept any more.

        1. What did you want, Eb, a dissertation on the subject? I’m well aware that the situation is, as all real situations, rather more involved when you get to the details.

          I will disagree with you about one thing: The term still means what it did, and has use in historical discussions.

          1. Fair enough. Kristol (Sr; Jr is a pudknocker of the worst sort) et al. made sense in their own twisted way. But they also paved the way for PNAC, and therein lies much of our current distress.

            It was Michael Harrington, who probably would not recognize his country today. Alas.

      3. I think that, since 2000, “conservative” has come to mean “yahoo” and “neoconservative” has come to mean “educated person who wants to invade and occupy as many nations as possible.” The latter, of course, includes the current President.

        1. Henry, I know it’s an obscure point, but liberals don’t really get to define words for everybody else, as handy as that power would be.

          1. No? Then I’m sure that somewhere I can find your disagreement with Jonah Goldberg about the meaning of the word “fascism”.

            “Neo-con”, like every other word in the dictionary, has both an historical meaning, and a current one. The current one seems to be to be most accurately, “John Yoo”.

  4. What makes me laugh is that Cain supporters go around praising him for being smart, and having good ideas. The only reason that the man is not at Newt’s level is that he hasn’t had the volume of press to publicize his blather and foolishness.

  5. Cain’s proud ignorance of Uzbekistan should, in an electorate fit for self-government, drop his support level to zero; if his approval grows among Republican primary voters, this proves that the latter are yahoos and are the functional equivalent of petulant adolescents. This point should be highlighted; the discussion over the fact that “neo-conservative” has more than one common usage should not be allowed to obscure the main catastrophe: an entire political party is being driven by voters who are mostly interested in giving the finger to the grown-ups. This is a threat to a republican form of government. Cain is a passing phenomenon, but the underlying dysfunction which is made visible in his popularity is, alas, an enduring reality.

  6. Has Mr. Cain taken a position on what sentence, if abortion were criminalized, that a woman who procures an illegal abortion should serve?

    I have a former client on Death Row in Nashville because an East Tennessee jury found that he arranged for someone to kill his wife. Murder for hire in several states is grounds for a death sentence. So is the murder of a victim who is particularly vulnerable because of age or disability.

    Many folks who bleat that abortion is murder, however, balk at executing or imprisoning for life someone with fertile female parts. Has Mr. Cain, or any other Republican candidate for president, offered his/her opinion?

  7. The correct position on the identity of the President of Uzbekistan is “I didn’t know his name yesterday but I just looked it up. As canddate and President and ex-President I will continue to learn things.”

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