Interesting piece in the Washington Post about those “3am phone call” commercials the Clinton campaign ran a few weeks ago.
According to presidential historians and former White House advisers, the president probably wouldn’t be awakened to deal with whatever crisis was occurring, because you wouldn’t want the commander-in-chief to make snap decisions while bleary-eyed. Woodrow Wilson, who led the nation through World War I, once explained that “no one could pass intelligent judgment when awakened from a sound sleep and that he was not going to try.”
On the other hand, sometimes a president who’s fully awake doesn’t respond right away to an emergency. I remember one guy who sat there reading “The Pet Goat” to an elementary school class for several minutes after being told the US was under attack.