There was a lot of unhinged rhetoric in last night’s Fox News/Wall Street Journal debate in South Carolina, but one thing really stood out for me. It occurred when Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked Texas Governor Rick Perry about U.S. relations with Turkey. Now, I am going to admit that Perry received a loaded question with several dubious premises. Nevertheless, Rick Perry’s answer was quite remarkable.

BAIER: Governor Perry, since the Islamist-oriented party took over in Turkey, the murder rate of women has increased 1,400 percent there. Press freedom has declined to the level of Russia. The prime minister of Turkey has embraced Hamas and Turkey has threatened military force against both Israel and Cyprus. Given Turkey’s turn, do you believe Turkey still belongs in NATO?

PERRY: Well, obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by, what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists, when you start seeing that type of activity against their own citizens, then yes. Not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they belong to be in NATO, but it’s time for the United States, when we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it.

PERRY: And you go to zero with foreign aid for all of those countries. And it doesn’t make any difference who they are. You go to zero with that foreign aid and then you have the conversation about, do they have America’s best interest in mind? And when you have countries like Turkey that are moving far away from the country that I lived in back in the 1970′s as a pilot in the United States Air Force that was our ally, that worked with us, but today we don’t see that.

Our — our — our president, has a foreign policy that makes our allies very nervous and emboldens our enemies. And we have to have a president of the United States that clearly sends the message, whether it’s to Israel, our friend and there should be no space between the United States and Israel, period.

I’d like to know who perceives Turkey’s government to be run by Islamic terrorists, or who thinks they are murdering women. Finally, who thinks the Turkish government isn’t working with us? The Wall Street Journal, which was a co-sponsor of the debate, reports that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is the only foreign leader the president talked to more often last year than Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. They also report that U.S.-Turkish relations are quite strong:

Analysts said Mr. Perry’s musings were all the more curious since Washington and Ankara’s alliance has been bolstered in recent months by Turkey’s strong backing of pro-democracy movements during Arab Spring uprisings.

“Ankara and Washington are now walking in lockstep… The essence of the new relationship is one where Turkey is more empowered, and more crucial to the U.S. because of its leverage,” said Atilla Yesilada, of Istanbul Analytics, an Istanbul-based political risk consultancy.

Turkish and U.S. diplomats say they cannot remember a time when cooperation between Ankara and Washington was closer…

…Turkey agreed last fall to host a North Atlantic Treaty Organization missile-defense system, which was designed by the U.S. to contain Iran.

I know that Rick Perry is a moron, but his remarks should be receiving more attention, including from the other candidates who let his statement go unchallenged.

Perry’s remarks about foreign aid and Israel were equally thoughtless, but I don’t expect those remarks to get any attention. When the governor of a major state, who is also a candidate for the presidency, falsely claims that one of our closest allies is run by Islamic terrorists and should potentially be expelled from NATO, responsible people have to repudiate him.

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