The GOP Candidates and That 3 A.M. Phone Call

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson tries to determine which GOP candidate would respond well in a foreign crisis and comes up empty-handed.

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GOP presidential candidates debate (Getty Images)

In his Washington Post column, Eugene Robinson tries to determine which GOP presidential candidate would best respond to a foreign crisis. He is not optimistic based on their responses to the recent death of Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

... The White House was particularly concerned about how Kim’s son -- Kim Jong Eun, the “Great Successor” who may have already assumed power -- would react to anything seen as a provocation. The young, inexperienced leader might believe he had to make a show of belligerence to prove himself. Aggressive action could prompt a sharp South Korean reaction, and suddenly a situation could become a crisis.

All this is lost on Romney, who came out guns blazing with what sounded like a call for regime change.

“Kim Jong Il was a ruthless tyrant who lived a life of luxury while the North Korean people starved,” Romney said in a statement. “He recklessly pursued nuclear weapons, sold nuclear and missile technology to other rogue regimes, and committed acts of military aggression against our ally South Korea. He will not be missed.”

... Well, that’s what we all hope. But dancing on the dictator’s grave is hardly presidential. How can anyone be certain what approach is most likely to lead to reform in North Korea until we know more about the Great Successor? Or until we can ascertain who now controls the nuclear weapons?

Romney is eager to show that he would somehow be tougher than Obama in foreign policy — a high bar, given Obama’s record of killing Osama bin Laden and helping orchestrate the demise of Moammar Gaddafi. It’s possible that Romney understands what his responsibility would be if he faced a similar circumstance as president. But if you take his words seriously, the former Massachusetts governor sounds like a dangerous hothead.

Read Eugene Robinson's entire column at the Washington Post.

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