I was actively avoiding posting last week, trying to have a real vacation for once and saving my strength for the home stretch heading up to the S.C. primaries. Not to mention the Legislature coming back next week.
So I didn’t say anything about Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. But I will now share what I was thinking at the time. It was basically two simple thoughts:
- This should provide a good gut check for all those people running for president — do they really want this job? Do they really think they know how to react in a situation such as this? Are people like Mike Huckabee, who has so many fine domestic sensibilities but NO foreign policy experience, thinking "Hey, wait a minute…"?
- Does an event like this reverse the process that David Brook wrote of last month. I thought his explanation of why Iowa voters were turning to Mr. Huckabee and Barack Obama was on-point: The success of the surge had made foreign affairs sink to the background in the public’s mind, and made them feel free to look around for a "postwar" president.
But make no mistake. Dealing with ungodly messes such as this is the main, chief, most essential part of the job description. The rest is mostly window-dressing by comparison. We need a wartime consigliere. Maybe it should be Obama or Huckabee. But if people are turning to them because they think "Happy Christmas/War is Over," they should think again.
I resisted writing the above during my vacation because … well, because I hate the way so many commentators change the subject from an important, knotty policy problem to electoral politics. They do it because they know electoral politics, or think they do, so that makes things easier.
But the truth is, it’s what I was thinking. And the further truth is, the biggest effect that you and I can have on the course of events in Pakistan and the next, yet-unidentified powder keg is to choose a president who’s a lot better qualified to choose a course of action than I am. Personally, looking at the chaos that Mrs. Bhutto’s death created, I would have no idea what to do or say next — if I were the one who had to do the saying and doing. I was truly at a loss.