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In his new column, “Intellectually, Cain Running On Empty,” Leonard Pitts Jr. argues that presidential candidates like Herman Cain must show some intellectual firepower if they want to lead the country:

On Monday, an editorial in the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader attacked Herman Cain for blowing off an interview with the paper. It seems that after video of Cain stumbling to articulate a position on Libya in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel went viral last week, the candidate instituted a new rule: no video cameras in newspaper interviews.

A spokesman for the Cain campaign said this was because “videos are typically used for television and it’s a newspaper.” But as the editorial noted, videos are used for pretty much everything these days. It suggested Cain’s real problem lay not in the presence of cameras, but in the fact that “newspaper interviews tend to be longer and more in depth” and require answers that go beyond canned sound bites. Cain’s refusal to engage in that sort of rigorous give and take, said the paper, “gives the impression that he’s got something to hide.”

Cain capitulated that same day.

But the damage is done. The attack solidifies a perception that he does, indeed, have something to hide, i.e., the fact that once you get him past his talking points (“9-9-9” and fences to electrocute unsuspecting Mexicans) — he really has nothing to say.

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