Belated, inadequate thoughts on Bhutto


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:

  1. 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…"?
  2. 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.

11 thoughts on “Belated, inadequate thoughts on Bhutto

  1. Karen McLeod

    Last time I checked, Dick Cheney (ie the power behind, above, beside, below, and in front of the throne) had plenty of experience. I’m looking for someone different; someone who can see the world in a different way. We don’t need to switch out actors who are doing John Wayne impressions. We need someone who is more open to how the world really works in all its complexity. I don’t know that I’m right, but I’m convinced that a lot of what we’ve done is really wrong.

  2. bud

    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.
    That pretty much describes our current president. Just check out the “My Pet Goat” video. We should not elect someone who is old (McCain), overly pious (Huckabee), ingenuous (Romney), morally bankrupt (Guiliani) or half-asleep (Thompson). That leaves the Democrats. It’s time for a woman’s touch in dealing with foreign affairs. The Pakistanis were on to something with their heartfelt support for Ms. Bhutto. It’s time for Hillary Clinton, the best qualified candidate to handle the difficult issues, both foreign and domestic, of our time.

  3. James D McCallister

    Not to change the focus here, but is the “surge” working? Or has the media spin on the Iraq occupation just changed? Last I checked, in 2007 we’ve lost more troops than ever, car bombs are still going off, a million Iraqis are dead, twice that (more?) are displaced refugees, et cetera.
    Please, please, MSM, don’t start coddling Bush again this late in the game by selectively reporting the truth and depicting that which is not so. I know how much all you war fetishists want history to rewrite itself before our very eyes and turn this misbegotten sow’s-ear era of invasion and occupation into a silk pillow upon which the President’s egomaniacal head may rest. But why? Bhutto’s death is as much the Bush administration’s fault as Musharraf’s. They love having a military strongman in power over there–it’s a blueprint for our own future of delayed elections, curfews, martial law, and other coming civil rights atrocities. The groundwork has all been laid in the last couple of decades.
    And Hillary will be more of the same, folks. That’s why the MSM has been pimping her as “inevitable”–she’ll continue to play the game.

  4. bud

    James, I agree with everything you said except for the the last paragraph. The MSM has actually denigrated Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton has been unfairly portrayed in a negative light by the MSM to the point that voters have accepted the media line that she will be partisan and devisive. Considering that she has been scrutinized more thouroughly than just about any candidate in American history it is unlikely any skeletons will be found. Her husband was certainly a womanizing hound dog but she somehow, unfairly, gets painted with the same ethical brush.
    With Hillary Clinton we’ll get all the brilliant political insight that we had with her husband without all the ethical lapses. She will work tirelessly to end the bloody, senseless, failed occupation of Iraq and bring our troops safely home. Her skills will be needed to undo the mess Mr. Bush has left, but I think she is up to the job. In just a few years we’ll have budget surpluses again and a true national health care plan. Oil prices will inevitably increase due to the geological reality of peak oil, but Ms. Clinton will lead us away from our dependency on the stuff. There is really only one candidate who can lead our country back to the greatness it once had. And her name is Hillary Clinton.

  5. Brad Warthen

    bud and Hillary, sittin’ in a tree…
    Hey, man, I stuck up for Hillary when everybody was trashing her on the driver’s licenses for illegals. Doesn’t mean I don’t see her warts, too.
    Speaking of things I like about her — among the Democrats, she and Biden seem the least likely to drop Iraq like a hot potato. But shouldn’t that bother bud?

  6. Brad Warthen

    Oh, and James — the MSM did its best to avoid giving the impression that the surge was working. That just became an untenable position after a certain amount of time.

  7. bud

    the MSM did its best to avoid giving the impression that the surge was working
    Huh? That’s all they talk about, especially on Fox News. In fact the surge has only played a minor role in the declining violence. What we’ve done is armed the Sunni Militias in order to deal with Al-Qaeda. It’s a dangerous game that we’ve played before that has come back to bite us. Remember how we armed Saddam with chemical weapons? And how can we forget the Afghan “freedom” fighters in the 1980s. Both those events turned out to become more than we bargained for. We’ve embarked on a very dangerous strategy that could easily backfire. Now we have to well armed groups of militias that are itching for a chance to rule Iraq.
    Besides, if the surge is the real reason behind declining violence in Iraq then why has the British sector experienced comparable declines in violence? They are practically done with Iraq. It’s about time the U.S. did the same thing. Enough time, money and U.S. resources have been wasted.
    As for Hillary, she’s a political pro who understands it’s not good strategy to show your hand too soon. She’s savvy enough to understand that a quick American withdrawal is very difficult to accomplish, even though it’s the correct path to take. But in the end she will do the right thing and bring the troops home quietly. Perhaps not as quickly as I would like, but probably as fast as is politically practical. In the new Clinton administration by the summer of 2009 Iraq will be a back-burner issue in American politics. How sweet would that be?

  8. Lee Muller

    Hillary is so unqualified to hold office
    This sad event provided another insight into Hillary Clinton’s ignorance of foreign affairs. She just visited Pakistan last year. She claims to have offered all sorts of suggestions to President Bush, which people in the Senate and the White House say is pure malarky.
    In her grandstanding announcement that she would be conducting her own investigation of the assassination, she accused the president of Pakistan of murdering Bhutto “so he wouldn’t have any opposition in the election. How dumb is she?
    The presidential election was in October. Bhutto was running for a seat in the parliament.

  9. Herb Brasher

    Has Musharaf been proven to be behind Bhutto’s death? I don’t think so. Let’s not forget that Bhutto was the one of the ones who is responsible for founding the Taliban, and that makes it a bit murky, I think, as to who was behind her assassination. The only thing that unites Pakistan right now is the military; they need Musharaf.


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