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November 19, 2012

Zombies invade. Who do you want for president?

(Continued)

One problem a president would face, Drezner says, is that the zombie crisis, like so many today, might begin ambiguously: "When it emerges, it will be very, very hard to define exactly what the threat is."

Presumably, it would begin with some sort of terrible pathogen (the sort that has turned most of humanity into zombies on one of cable television's most popular shows, "The Walking Dead"), but the devastation wouldn't be immediate. The 3 a.m. phone call might begin more like this: "Something bad is happening, Mr. President, but we're not sure what."

Within days, though, it would become clear that in order to save what remains of humanity, a president would have to take the most dire and seemingly cruel steps imaginable, working in an atmosphere of paranoia and pervasive death and bureaucratic miscommunication.

"The problem with the undead is that they pose a nightmare for interagency policy coordination," Drezner says, noting the large number of federal organizations that would be required to fight the zombies.

So which candidate would be better equipped to make the decisions necessary to thwart this threat? To answer that question, we have to understand each man's vision of the role of the federal government.

Romney, we already know, isn't exactly enamored of the Federal Emergency Management Agency; we can assume he won't be doubling the budgets of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health, the organizations that, with any luck, would find an antidote to zombification.

Obama, on the other hand, thinks the federal government should play a primary role in disaster management, and that government is generally a force for good. But there is a downside to overly generous federal spending: Drezner argues that the chance that a zombie pathogen could escape from a government laboratory grows as federal spending increases.

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