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There would have been few consequences if Herman Cain had said he couldn't be bothered to learn the name of the leader of "Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan" while he was just a talk radio host, but since he's a candidate for commander-in-chief, he's now got the Afghan president mocking him. Hamid Karzai brought up Cain's comments with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Thursday, The New York Times' Steven Lee Myers reports, forcing Clinton to explain that Cain "started something called Godfather's Pizza." Karzai seemed amused, not offended, in the exchange:

Clinton: "He’s a former pizza company owner."
Karzai: "Is he that?
Clinton: "Oh, yes. He started something called Godfather’s pizza.
Karzai: "Yes, I see, I see."
Clinton: [laughing to ambassador Ryan Crocker] "The president was saying he saw a news clip about how Mr. Cain had said I don’t even know the names of all these presidents of all these countries, you know, like whatever..."
Karzai: "All the 'stans whatever."
Clinton: "All the 'stans places.”
Karzai: "That wasn't right ... but anyway, that's how politics are."
Cain has been campaigning on his business experience, taking credit for turning around the struggling Godfather's in the 1980s. Slate's Dave Weigel has made a case for looking at Cain's experience working for the Kansas City Federal Reserve. But it's Cain's experience as a radio host that's mattered most in this campaign -- he knows how to talk about tough issues in a charming, folksy way and create catch phrases. But the things you can get away with as an entertainer  -- Cain once bragged that as a talk show host he didn't have to be politically correct -- are harder to get away with as a candidate, because reporters will ask you questions about them. On CNN Wednesday night, Piers Morgan asked Cain if he thought being gay was a choice, Politico's Juana Summers notes. Cain said yes.  That led to this exchange:
Morgan: "You're a commonsense guy..You genuinely believe that millions of Americans wake up in their late teens normally and go, you know what, I kind of fancy being a homosexual? You don't believe that, do you?"
Cain: "Piers, you haven't given me any evidence to believe otherwise."
Morgan: "My gut instinct, Herman, tells me that it has to be a natural thing."
Cain: "So it's your gut instinct versus my gut instincts. I respect their right to make that choice. You don't see me bashing them. I respect them to have the right to make that choice. I don't have to agree with it. That's all I'm saying."
Morgan: "It would be like a gay person saying, Herman, you made a choice to be black."
Cain: "You know that's not the case. You know I was born black."
Morgan: "Maybe if they say that, they would find that offensive."
Cain: "Piers, Piers. This doesn't wash off. I hate to burst your bubble."
Because being gay washes off? In the same interview, ABC News' Susan Archer notes, Cain said he was 100 percent pro-life -- no abortions allowed even in cases of rape or incest. But when Morgan asked Cain if he’d apply that rule to his own grandkids, Cain seemed less certain. "It comes down to, it’s not the government’s role or anybody’s role to make that decision," Cain said. "What I’m saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that the family or that mother has to make. Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat."
Many think Cain's campaign has been an audition for his a Fox News contract. Surely then he sympathizes with Fox commentator Sarah Palin, who announced she wasn't running for president because it would leave her more "unshackled" to say what she thinks.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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