Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Benazir Bhutto’s assassination

PWS has already noted the bad news out of Pakistan. I was working out, with Fox on the television (my wife’s preference; I’d rather read), and caught the non-stop coverage.

What I found striking about the domestic reaction is the unwillingness of many of the candidates (Rudy and Mitt seem to have been the first out of the block, but Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee were hard on their heels) to await the President’s official statement. I understand that John McCain has also already spoken, but I can’t find a link to it.

Fox’s Carl Cameron has speculated that this event will change the dynamic of the primary process, raising the salience of national security issues (thereby helping McCain and Giuliani, and perhaps Clinton). But I’ll be paying attention to whether the candidates recognize that, in a time of crisis, the President needs the field to himself.

Update: I hear on Fox (my dad’s netowrk of choice) that all the major candidates have issued statements. And I note this response from John Podhoretz (the end of our brief campaign holiday from history) and from Byron York on the campaign fallout.

Update #2: Jim Geraghty has reasons for doubting that national security will move up in voter concerns (partly Iowa’s middle Americanness and partly that the candidates really don’t have much interesting or distinctive to say about Pakistan). Of course, voers can think about it without candidates talking explicitly about it.

Geraghty also notes Bill Richardson’s boldly stupid comments, which strike me as not helpful at all, but ultimately inconsequential unless he finds a home in a future Democratic Administration.

Here is a story about President Bush’s statement. And here’s HRC
’s statement, which has the virtue, at least, of not offering policy prescriptions.

Discussions - 10 Comments

I doubt it will radically alter the discussion in either party's primaries. "Benazir Bhutto" is a barely recognizable name to many, and most don't see the connection between Pakistan and us.

Nor will the candidates yield the stage to the President ... not yet, at least. If the events grow more perilous then perhaps. But for now each candidate's objective is purely self-interest.

No. This means a major disruption in Pakistan. If Musharraf was not behind it, he will be presumed to have been behind it by most supporters of Bhutto and so it will come to the same thing. The destabilization of Pakistan could rock the whole region. This is not just a problem for us in relation to Iraq and Afghanistan, but also could disrupt Pakistan's relations with India. That peace has been one of Bush's great successes, though he gets little credit for it. If this event brings down Musharraf, who knows what will happen. This is very bad news and while it may not have an effect on the campaigns in America right away - well, it is hard to believe that the repercussions from this can have no effect in the longer term.

How awful for us, the US, that none of the candidates considers the current president to be of enough consequence to wait to hear what he said before issuing statements of their own.

A question for all the interventionists? What do you think would be the appropriate response? What should America do differently now? Surely someone needs to be bombed or at the very least saber-rattled at. :-)

To illustrate a fundamental difference between the mindset of the interventionists and a non-interventionist like me, when Dr. K. noted that they didn't await the President's statement, I thought he meant President Musharraf. But I see now he meant President Bush. The assassination is Musharraf's problem MUCH more than it is ours.

Dear Red: Well, we are facing the growing prospect of a more modern and powerful nation than Afghanistan, unquestionably armed with WMDs, and which has already leaked nuke secrets to terrorists, now coming under unchallenged control of Islamofascists.

Many of us are what you call "non-interventionists," but the trouble is, AlQueda and the Paki government it may soon control are "interventionists." Unfortunately it takes two for "nonintervention" to work.

I remember that great routine of Robert Klein, the child of the 50s, talking about how unseriously we schoolkids used to take our missile attack shelter drills. It went something like, "hey, they're only over 125th Street, plenty of time for another stickball game."

"Nonintervention" is a child's posture, not a policy for mature men. God bless President Bush for not forgetting for a moment that he was hired by the American people to defend this country against attacks from anywhere.

"Nonintervention" is a child's posture, not a policy for mature men.

Give me a break. All the chest beating around here reminds me of nothing more than a bunch of middle school boys on a playground. You equate foreign affairs with confronting the playground bully. Your simplistic and formulaic use of the utterly imprecise "Islamofascists" gives you away. Mature rational adults know that foreign affairs are complicated and can't be boiled down to simplistic good vs. evil formulations. BTW, was George Washington a child? Was John Quincy Adams?

Obviously, it is better for America if President Musharraf maintains control and Pakistan doesn't fall into the control of A-Q. A-Q in control is a very unlikely result. Ongoing chaos is much more likely. But the point is what can we do about it? If I remember correctly, a bunch of American moralists were finger waging at Musharraf for declaring martial law earlier. Why do some people seem to believe that America will be better off if the Middle East is democratic?

Pakistan’s friendliness to the US is part of the reason some are upset with Musharraf.

Surely even an aggressive interventionist would wait and see what happens next. Above, I confess to just guessing, without having seen any analysis, yet. There is more serious analysis out there now, like this on the topic of most likely suspects.

McCain's statement is on his campaign website. Boilerplate, except that he calls attention to the fact that he's actually been in Pakistan. Experience and all that. Well, McCain is a hero and I mean no disrespect, but I do marvel at the way a seasoned politician can respond to the murder of another seasoned politician and somehow turn the conversation back to...himself.

A politician who both waited for the current president to make a statement on behalf of the nation AND did not turn the conversation back to himself in his statement could/might earn my vote on that basis alone.

Will Nostradomas (sp?) be proven correct that fire from the sky will come from a middle eastern, possibly arab, madman, which, in my opinion, is a heck of a lot of them?

By Kate's criterion (of which I approve), no one earned our votes today, so far as I can tell.

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