We're not going to beat Obama with Cain

Later, with an almost beautiful defiance, Mr. Cain told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “I’m not supposed to know anything about foreign policy.” That’s what staffers are for. “I want to talk to commanders on the ground. Because you run for president [people say] you need to have the answer. No you don’t! No you don’t!”

Yes you do. It was as if history itself were unknown to him, as if Harry Truman told Douglas MacArthur, “Do what you want, cross the Yalu, but remember to tell me if we invade China.”…

The purpose here isn’t to slam Mr. Cain but to point out that when Republicans talk like this—no, when GOP voters cheer Republicans who talk like this—it leads their opponents to smile in smug satisfaction.

A central line of Democratic attack against Republicans is that they’re not really for anything, they just hate government. That, Democrats say, is why Republicans speak so disrespectfully of government as an institution, that’s why they blithely dismiss the baseline requirements of a public office, as Mr. Cain does.

The charge that Republicans just hate government carries other implications—that they’re stupid, that they’re haters by nature, that they’re cynical and merely strategic, that they enjoy having phantom foes around whom to coalesce, like cavemen warming themselves around a fire.