Stress-Test Obama and McCain with Crisis Scenarios

As Commander in Chief of America’s Armed Forces, the President bears the central responsibility for the security of the United States. In an era in which nuclear weapons are proliferating to rogue nations and even terrorists, he or she may have to respond very quickly to a crisis situation.

We therefore propose an addition to the traditional Presidential debate: a public crisis management exercise in which the candidates will have to make real-time responses to realistic threats to the United States. The exercise should include impartial and competent advice from military, law enforcement, and emergency management leaders (such as generals, police chiefs, the Director of the FBI, FEMA, and so on), but each candidate would have to make a real-time decision within minutes.

As an example: “Senator McCain, a terrorist organization has announced that it has planted a nuclear bomb in New York City, and that it will detonate it if its demands are not met. The National Security Agency thinks the threat is credible.”

Another example: “Senator Obama, Iran has announced that it has two nuclear-tipped Shahab-3 missiles on a freighter off our Atlantic Coast, and it is threatening to use them on New York and Washington unless the United States surrenders.”

In each case, the candidate who wants to be President is expected to make a decisive decision in real time. We recommend that Obama be equipped with a diaper to contain any messes.

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