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December 28, 2007
Politics knows no respect for the dead
Roger Simon at Pajamas Media notes that within minutes of the assassination being confirmed "the electoral scavengers were out" - him included - gauging how the murder of Bhutto would play in Iowa and thus the campaign:
The Politico was one of the first out of the box: “The instant conventional wisdom will say that heavy news coverage of the gun and bomb attack will bolster the arguments of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain, both members of the Armed Services Committee…That same instant, C.W. will say that the candidates most damaged will be Sen. Barack Obama and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.” Simon goes on to point out that generally speaking, the assassination helps the Republicans because they are still viewed as the party best able to deal with international terrorism. I find that to be sound political reasoning but with a double edge; most of the Republican candidates appear to have signed on to the Bush policy of fighting terrorism while the public thinks by a small plurality that we are winning the war on terror.
Well, they were certainly right about Huckabee who, almost instantly, shot himself in his already wounded foreign policy foot, improbably apologizing to Pakistan on our behalf for what had happened.
And he wasn’t the only candidate to jump the shark, as the saying goes. Bill Richardson called for Musharraf to step down before anyone even knew who did it. And foreign policy is supposed to be the New Mexico governor’s strong suit. Joe Biden’s people gave him a deserved hiding:
“It’s so wildly irresponsible that it can’t go unchallenged,” Biden spokesman Larry Rasky said of Richardson’s statement. “Asking Musharraf to step aside now would leave a huge power vacuum at a time of crisis in Pakistan. It’s the last thing we need until we know what really happened and who’s responsible.”
Most of the other candidates had the good sense to keep their mouths shut or at least use them to mouth the usual platitudes, according to that same Politico round up.
If there are other attacks elsewhere before the election, it may serve to widen the Republican advantage on the issue as Roger points out. However, it is also possible there would be a backlash against the Republicans for backing what the Democrats will certainly call a "failed policy."
The fluidity of the situation will no doubt cause the campaigns and pollsters to be pulling their hair out by the time the caucuses are over next Friday night.