It appears that in the two days between Herman Cain's Meet the Press interview and his appearance on Piers Morgan last night, his position on abortion has not gotten any less confusing. Cain reiterated that he believes in "life at conception" and "abortion under no circumstances." But then he goes on to denounce the idea that the government should be involved in such personal decisions.
For the video impaired:
CAIN: I believe that life begins at conception. And abortion under no circumstances. And here's why --
MORGAN: No circumstances?
CAIN: No circumstances.
MORGAN: Because many of your fellow candidates — some of them qualify that.
CAIN: They qualify but —
MORGAN: Rape and incest.
CAIN: Rape and incest.
MORGAN: Are you honestly saying — again, it's a tricky question, I know.
CAIN: Ask the tricky question.
MORGAN: But you've had children, grandchildren. If one of your female children, grandchildren was raped, you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?
CAIN: You're mixing two things here, Piers?
CAIN: You're mixing —
MORGAN: That's what it comes down to.
CAIN: No, it comes down to it's not the government's role or anybody else's role to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you're not talking about that big a number. So what I'm saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make.
Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn't have to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive issue.
MORGAN: By expressing the view that you expressed, you are effectively — you might be president. You can't hide behind now the mask, if you don't mind me saying, of being the pizza guy. You might be the president of United States of America. So your views on these things become exponentially massively more important. They become a directive to the nation.
CAIN: No they don't. I can have an opinion on an issue without it being a directive on the nation. The government shouldn't be trying to tell people everything to do, especially when it comes to social decisions that they need to make.
MORGAN: That's a very interesting departure —
MORGAN: — from the normal politics.
Now, it's perfectly reasonable for someone to be personally opposed to abortion and yet, at the same time, believe that government should not restrict everyone else from making that decision for themselves. There's nothing contradictory about that at all. It's just that, in the abortion debate, those people are known as pro-choice. Cain talks about abortion like someone who is pro-choice, yet insists that he's pro-life.
That "pro-life" label Cain has bestowed on himself may be misleading. At some point, some interviewer apparently not Piers Morgan is going to have to really pin Cain down and force him to clarify whether he supports a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. Even if Cain eventually decides that he doesn't, social conservatives already have plenty of reason to be skeptical of him. Does this really sound like a man who will dedicate himself to ending the mass slaughter of innocent babies? More than his complete lack of foreign-policy knowledge or problems with his 9-9-9 plan, that skepticism could be Cain's undoing.