Bhutto’s Death & 2008 US Politics

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is currently having a huge ripple effect across Pakistan but I also think the event will have an impact on Democrats & Republicans in America’s 2008 presidential race.

On the Democrat side, I think Hillary Clinton will benefit from the latest turn of events. She’s tried to stake out a measured, moderate approach to foreign policy as a sharp contrast to Barack Obama’s “we-are-the-world” idealism. Bhutto’s death will remind sensible Democrats that we still live in a dangerous world & now is not the time to hand over the awesome responsibilities of Commander-In-Chief to a political neophyte. John Edwards’ claim of speaking to current Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf & urging him to continue the path of democratiztion is a desperate bid on Edwards’ part to come across as relevant on foreign policy even though his campaign’s focus till now has been almost obsessively domestic. If Clinton can skillfully exploit this moment, she might win her party’s nomination.

On the Republican side, I think Bhutto’s assassination will provide a lift to John McCain’s campaign. He’s been unapologetic about fighting Islamofascism & defending American interests. His “straight-talk” character will appeal to a lot of GOP voters who have become disgusted with candidates who are percieved to be glib or plastic. Because strength of character is viewed as important to Republican voters when they choose America’s next Commander-In-Chief, I think that mindset will continue to hurt Giuliani in spite of his get-tough-with-terrorists approach forged since 9/11. I also think said mindset will turn away from perceived flip-floppers like Mitt Romney as well as being against politicians like Mike Huckabee, who has no experience in foreign affairs. Is this McCain’s big chance? We’ll soon find out.

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  • Vote3rdpartynow

    that the Bhutto assassination is being overplayed by candidates.  Things may heat up in Pakistan for a while, but aside from filthy, unshaven, senile, old Muslim men swinging sticks over their heads and lighting trash cans on fire there is not much more to worry about.  It is typical third-world reaction to government change.

    As for the POTUS candidates I would be embarrassed if it changed things.  I say that because we should not be electing Presidents based on the news headlines.  And the POTUS candidates should not be suddenly altering their messages based on the latest news flash.  The candidates should have been talking about national security, foreign relations and the middle east whether this happened or not.

    I think I could argue that this event would help Joe Biden and John McCain, but I predict the result will be more sublime then that.  The effect will simply cause Independent voters to slide to the right.  (Good news for McCain) Other than that I don’t see a lot of risks and opportunities to be had.  

  • But it perhaps also benefits Paul:

    Our Pakistan problem is a vexatious question, ill-suited to being addressed in sound bites and press releases. But it’s precisely because it’s so impossibly vexatious, and likely to remain so no matter who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania, that the news from Rawalpindi fleetingly inspired me to greater sympathy not for “ready to lead” politicians like John McCain or Hillary Clinton, but for the “come home, America” candidacy of one Dr. Ron Paul.

  • The Angelic One

    V3PN, Festus is no johnny-come-lately on the problems of Islamofascism. He & I even had a chat about it earlier this year & he impressed me with his solid understanding of the situation(s) on terrorism that confronts America in particular & Western civilization in general. Check out our exchange:

    Festus didn't strike me then & doesn't strike me now as a "cut & run" liberal. Whatever criticisms he's posted here on RMG regarding the fight against Islamofascism tends to focus (among other things) on how ineptly the war had been initially prosecuted by Bush & Co (a critique I share with him). Festus' concern about a possible nuclear conflict involving Pakistan is one shared by political realists in BOTH parties. It could happen (as it almost did before) through an escalation of tensions with Pakistan & India (another nuclear power) over claims made by both countries over the Kashmir province.

    What might happen in a scenario whereupon a bullet with al Qaeda's logo on it finally has a rendezvous with Musharraf's brain? Well the faction of the Pakistani military most sympathetic to bin Laden seizes control & declares war against the infidel West (an attitude supported by a large chunk of the country's population). Such an outcome might cause instability in neighboring Pakistan & offer hope to Chechen rebels fighting against Russia (hence Putin's public display of anger against Bhutto's killers).

    As The Voice of America recently reported (12-28-07) from its London offices:

    The headlines in some major newspapers around Europe on Friday mirrored the general reaction to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

    "Fears rise as Bhutto falls," was the headline in the British daily, The Times, while the lead story talked of Pakistan plunging into chaos. The Independent posed the question, "What Now for Pakistan?" An editorial in the French newspaper, Le Monde, warned of "danger ahead;" and Belgium's Le Soir said Pakistan's democracy is "writhing in blood and could soon be without life."

    Newspapers in Turkey predicted a possible prolonged period of instability for Pakistan with the liberal daily Milliyet calling Ms. Bhutto's assassination a major "blow to Pakistan's future."

    Hours after Ms. Bhutto's assassination in Rawalpindi on Thursday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned the attack and praised the slain opposition leader as a woman of great courage. "This is a sad day for democracy," said Mr. Brown. "It's a tragic hour for Pakistan."

    Concerns over the implications of the assassination are rising. On Friday, Britain's Foreign Office tightened its travel advisory for Pakistan, warning against all but essential travel to the country.

    Political analyst Farzana Shaikh of London's Chatham House research center told VOA, Pakistan is entering uncharted waters. "It faces possibly the greatest political crisis since the inception of the state in 1947," said Shaikh. "Precisely, how this crisis plays out in the next few weeks and months will depend on the decisions that are taken by the caretaker government and President [Pervez] Musharraf."

    While most of the world wrings its hands over the implications of the Bhutto murder, here in America the assassination is being wrung for the political gain of Democrats & Republicans smart enough to exploit Bhutto's death for their own respective ends. As recently noted by Reuters (12-28-07):

    Clinton, in a three-way battle with Obama and Edwards for the lead in Iowa, questioned the credibility of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and said opposition leader Bhutto's assassination put a harsh light on President George W. Bush's approach in the region. Nuclear-armed Pakistan is a vital ally in the U.S. war on terrorism.

    "It is clear the Bush policy of giving Musharraf a blank check has failed," the New York senator said in Story City in north-central Iowa. "We need an international and independent investigation into the death of Benazir Bhutto."

    Polls show a close race in both parties in Iowa, which on Thursday opens the state-by-state battle to choose Republican and Democratic candidates for the November 2008 election to replace Bush.

    Clinton, Obama and Edwards are essentially deadlocked at the top among Democrats, polls show, while Huckabee and Romney battle for the Republican lead in a state where a win can provide valuable momentum.

    Bhutto's killing on Thursday prompted candidates to exercise their foreign policy expertise and, in the case of Clinton and Edwards, tout their experience.

    The Clinton and Obama camps traded accusations of politicizing her death, while Romney and Huckabee were put on the defensive over their lack of foreign policy credentials. Several Democrats leveled criticism at Musharraf.

    "We have poured billions of dollars in support to President Musharraf — and he has not focused on dealing with the terrorist threat that is growing," Obama, an Illinois senator, said in Willamsburg, Iowa, stopping short of calling for Musharraf's ouster.

    Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, criticized his Democratic rivals for not pushing for Musharraf's removal. He called for an end to U.S. military aid to Pakistan not directly related to fighting terrorism until Musharraf resigns.

    If most of the Republicans are smart & if they really have a grasp of the geo-political situation, they could make mince meat out of the aforementioned statements made by some of the Democrat candidates. Sadly, most partisans in BOTH parties don't have a clue about the fanatical enemy we ALL face. In order to ultimately win this battle, conservatives/Republicans & liberals/Democrats have to TALK to each other – not SCREAM at each other – & share the kind of consensus we used to have during WWII when America faced a common enemy who threatened us ALL. We now face a similar kind of threat today with Islamofascism. Festus & I may have our differences on other issues but I think on the issue of Islamofascism we're in sync. Festus, I hope I haven't assumed too much on your behalf.

  • Knightbrigade

    will happen…

    Musharraf will merge with Bhutto’s followers to avenge her death and fight Al Qaeda…..or He will attempt Marshall law and stomp everyone…and then we MAY have a problem..

    Hey first strike option anyone? If terrorist gain control it will either be USA or Israel either way…Pakistan will be dealt with…IF necessary of course…