Which candidate should answer that 3 a.m. phone call?

We learned Sunday night what happens when Barack Obama is on the receiving end of unsettling news from one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints. There’s a round of consultation with allies, a carefully worded official statement, an assessment of the status of diplomatic efforts to defuse North Korea’s nuclear program — in other words, a cautious and measured response.

Implicit in Obama’s actions is the recognition that nothing a U.S. president says or does at this moment is likely to influence North Korean events in a positive way. Intemperate words or deeds, however, could be destabilizing at a moment of sudden transition. This is no moment to apply sharp pressure to a hermetically sealed, supremely paranoid regime that considers itself perpetually besieged and happens to possess nuclear weapons. …

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

[And] that’s nothing compared to Gingrich, whose past statements about North Korea have been shot from the hip.