Since Herman Cain seems to be having a hard time explaining his position on abortion, the spirit of post-partisanship calls on those of us who aren’t his friends politically to help out.

You can see where he’s pinned. Cain knows that he’s supposed to be anti-abortion, and that he’s also supposed to be for minimal government. The problem is that hasn’t been in politics long enough to believe the requisite number of contradictions before breakfast. So he managed to say that he was “pro-life” and that he believed in choice. That makes him sound like all the other pols who say they’re personally against abortion but believe in the right to choose. And he knows that “pro-choice” is about as popular with the base as Barack Obama. So Cain is backpedaling furiously, if not very coherently.

Cain’s actual position actually rather simple, and it makes him both anti-abortion and pro-choice.

See, he believes that a woman who becomes pregnant as the result of rape should be able to choose between bearing her rapist’s child or, alternatively, having a dangerous back-alley abortion and going to jail for it.

What could be fairer than that?

Note: Cain isn’t nearly as dumb as Rick Perry, but he’s even more clueless about the issues than Sarah Palin was. I completely believe him when he says he doesn’t know what a neo-conservative is and doesn’t either know or care who’s the president of Uz-beki-beki-stan-stan.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

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Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.