You won’t believe me until you click play but this is much worse than Perry’s brain lock at the debate last week. Perry lost his train of thought; Cain doesn’t have a train at all here, to the point where he needs confirmation from the interviewer of what Obama’s position on Libya actually was. Eventually he produces some boilerplate about not supporting the opposition until you’re sure who’s in it and of course not making a decision as president until he has all the information, which is a standard Cain fallback talking point whenever he gets in trouble on a question, but the first two minutes or so are pure agony. The board actually took pity on him, I think, by not following up. Imagine if they’d asked his opinion on Obama’s decision to ignore the War Powers Act. Remember, this is a guy who apparently wants to be considered for secretary of defense.

And that still only barely qualifies as the worst answer he gave today. Here’s what he told them when asked, predictably enough, about Scott Walker’s righteous crusade against public employee unions:

On the issue of collective bargaining, Cain said he supported the right of public employees to bargain collectively.

“But not collective hijacking. What I mean by that, if they have gotten so much for so many years and it’s going to bankrupt the state, I don’t think that’s good. It appears that in some instances, they really don’t care.”…

In an interview with the Journal Sentinel last month, Cain said that he was “right in the corner of Gov. Scott Walker 100%” in Walker’s battle with public employee unions.

Cain also appeared to be unclear on the issue of collective bargaining as it involves federal employees. Asked if he thought federal employees should have the ability to bargain collectively, Cain said: “They already have it, don’t they?”

Told they didn’t, he said, “They have unions.”

His candidacy’s now basically an experiment to see if there’s anything he could say about policy that grassroots conservatives wouldn’t ignore/forgive in the name of nominating a candidate who’s “authentic” instead of some slick RINO Beltway insider phony (many of whom at least oppose collective bargaining for PEUs). Is there anything? Or can any screw-up be dismissed so long as it’s “clarified” a few hours later, knowing full well that undecideds won’t be as forgiving if he pulls something like this in a debate against Obama? How steep is the authenticity grading curve here, exactly?

I was going to give you the clip of Bialek’s ex-boyfriend claiming today that she told him back in 1997 that Cain had done something inappropriate, but most of you will find this more important. (You can watch that vid here.) His polls have already started to slide from the allegations — Doug Schoen’s latest survey finds 53 percent believe the harassment charges are true, with independents splitting 46/27, and Politico’s new battleground poll finds his support among likely Republican voters cut in half in the span of eight days. So maybe none of this much matters anymore, except of course to Newt Gingrich.