Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Bhutto Effect on '08

"The entire conversation changed"
"In one minute, one instant, one flash . . ."
The assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister and reformer Benazir Bhutto has reconfigured the conventional wisdom's thinking about the 2008 presidential race.
At least for a day.
We listen a little closer to the words of Hillary Clinton, and her personal meeting with Bhutto and wonder . . . maybe experience does trump hope? We turn up the volume on the television sets when those gray-haired old white men start speaking. Sen. John McCain looks a little steadier in wartime. Maybe even hard-knocks Rudy Giuliani gets another look.
"The entire conversation changed, in one minute, one instant, one flash," said NBC's chief foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell tonight.
How would our next president handle this crisis? Bill Richardson is calling for Pakistan Prime Minister and Bhutto rival Pervez Musharraf to step down. Joe Biden is demanding Pakistan hold free elections. Or do we need a president who would back Musharraf during this storm for stability's sake?
"With President Bush not on the ballot, the most senior figures in the race on either side of the aisle who may inherit that "rally round the flag" effect are Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Clinton, in fact, may benefit the most," writes Steven Stark on RealClearPolitics.
Suddenly, the other man from Hope may not be so funny. In a minor blunder, Mike Huckabee appeared to say Pakistan was currently under marshal law. Critics pounced. It's minor. But in the high-stakes game of presidential politics in wartime, it's surely not petty.


Matt said...

Bhutto's assassination may have a short-term effect (say two days) on the primary races, and it will benefit candidates like McCain and Biden who have demonstrable experience in foreign affairs. As you alluded to in this post, it hurts candidates like Huckabee who have little to no experience in foreign policy. In the longer view in the march to Iowa, it won't be a real factor.

boyd said...

This hurts Obama and Huckleberry and helps McCain and Dodd. Most dems don't care about foreign policy and tend to be single issue people. This might have an effect on the repubs.