Rick Perry is taking a beating even from conservatives for his poor showing in the debates. While conservatives have focused on his fluffing of a chance to attack Mitt Romney, others have pointed to is his incoherent response to what he would do if told at 3:00 am that Pakistani nuclear weapons had fallen into the hands of the Taliban.
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I have to partly defend Perry on this particular point. Granted, his stringing together of non-sequiturs (what was India doing in that mix?) was Palinesque in its baroque quality. But posing these kinds of ridiculous hypotheticals to people is unfair. Do they expect a candidate to have thought through every possible emergency situation and have a readymade strategy to articulate? If Perry is to be criticized at all, it is for even attempting any specific answer instead of simply saying, whatever the crisis presented, that he would immediately convene a meeting of his national security advisors to devise a response.
Also, why do these questions always have the dreaded phone call coming at 3:00 am? What difference does the time make? Do they think that the president, groggy from being awakened and annoyed at a pleasant dream being disrupted and wanting to go back to sleep would say, “Dammit, just nuke ‘em!”