One of the more cringe-worthy moments of last week’s Republican debate came towards the end of the evening and dealt with, of all things, nuclear weapons. Hugh Hewitt asked Donald Trump, “What’s your priority among our nuclear triad?” To make things really easy for the GOP frontrunner, the conservative co-moderator went to the trouble of explaining what the “nuclear triad” is (bombers, missiles, and submarines).
Trump gave a long, meandering answer, which touched on a variety of issues unrelated to the nuclear triad. Hewitt, to his credit, tried again, asking, “Of the three legs of the triad, though, do you have a priority?”
The Republican candidate – who’d just been reminded of what the “triad” refers to – responded, “I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.”
In a year filled with countless examples of GOP White House hopefuls saying things that don’t make a lick of sense, it was one of the more painful exchanges of 2015.
But as bad as Trump’s debate answer was, ThinkProgress flagged a quote from the candidate’s campaign spokesperson that may be even scarier.
Appearing on Fox News on Friday, a spokesperson for Republican frontrunner Donald Trump threatened that the business mogul would be willing to use nuclear weapons if he were elected to serve as commander in chief.“What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?” campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson asked on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor.
I looked up the transcript on Nexis, and the context actually makes it worse. As part of the segment, conservative pundit Kurt Schlichter, reflecting on the debate, said, “[I]s it too much that he knows what the nuclear triad is? I mean, Katrina, the point of the nuclear triad is to be afraid to use the damn thing. You want to scare the hell out of the other side.”
It was in response to this that Trump’s spokesperson said, “What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?”
In case it’s not obvious, using nuclear weapons is … how do I put this gently … not good. That the Trump campaign has a rather cavalier attitude on the subject is a little terrifying.
Put it this way: the United States is not alone in the nuclear club. Would we want officials in other counties to wonder aloud what good it does to have a nuclear arsenal if they’re afraid to use it?