If you’re counting along at home, the pause lasts a full 20 seconds. And after taking his time to deliberate carefully on the matter, he … still has no idea what to say.

There’s an answer, of course. Free and fair elections in Iran would probably produce a regime that’s more pro-western than the current one (how much more is hard to say) while free and fair elections in the Kingdom would almost certainly produce a regime that’s more anti-western. Liberalism is the ends; democracy is the means. To the extent that the latter serves the former, however incrementally, it’s to be encouraged. When it doesn’t, it isn’t. But of course Jones can’t say that. I wonder, though, why he didn’t fart something out about how Saudi Arabia is moving ve-r-r-r-r-y slowly towards liberalization while Iran, per the 1979 revolution, has moved away from it, never mind that Iran under the mullahs is still a bit more liberal in certain ways than KSA is. (Right, ladies?) Or he could have fallen back on tradition — the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been “allies” for decades, notwithstanding the occasional Saudi citizen flying passenger jets into American skyscrapers, whereas Iran has been an avowed enemy for nearly 40 years. Naturally we focus more on our enemies’ flaws than our allies’. But nope, this guy’s got nothing.

Maybe he was tired?