The Blue Raccoon

Friday, December 28, 2007

Meanwhile, How Will This Play In Iowa and New Hampshire: It Won't.

Moments before she was killed, Benazir Bhutto raised out from the sunroof of her car. Her effort to be seen and connect with her admirers proved a fatal choice. Via the Guardian, Getty Images, photographer John Moore.

Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank was asked by Keith Olbermann last night how the Bhutto slaying would affect voters in... Iowa. And Milbank responded, not much. When the Hillary Clinton mentioned the tragedy at a rally, Milbank said, the spectators seemed puzzled.

Mr. and Mrs. Murgatroyd aren't going to give a fig about the death of a foreign leader, in particular one in the seeming distant and weird land of Pakistan, which is all a bunch of terrorists and Hindoos and A-rabs and heathens, anyway. What they care about is cheap gas and low taxes and God, guns and gays. Unless she's Lady Diana, then they go all weak in the knees and weepy. What the Murgatroyds want is the safety to drive their massive vehicles with one hand so they can yammer into their cell phones about how the liberals are destroying the country as they run over dogs and small children and curse them for being in their way.

No, they won't care until the seams of the earth pop open like a baseball on the oven and a conflagaration reaches out and disrupts their lives. Then they wonder: How did this happen?

Benazir Bhutto with her children Bakhtwar, Aseefa and Bilawal.
Photo: Karan Kapoor/Corbis Via The Guardian, here.

What was Benazir Bhutto thinking when she returned to Pakistan? She seems to have believed that she was fated to lead there, probably to die there--given she indicated that she had reason to suspect that Musharraf's adherents would commit violence against her (and she was right) when she returned.

The Bush administration was betting on her to win in the upcoming parliamentary elections and we'll never know if that would've been a good turn of events or not. Her past two administrations ended in corruption and tumult; these days, even her own family members were calling her a toady of outside interests.

Yet, she returned to her homeland to try and make some impact...and die. Was she guided by a perverse arrogance, blind faith or are the two in this case indistinguishable? Our own president seems to think he was "fated" to be the nation's leader (yeah, right, "fated" by the Supreme Court).

And what happens next is anybody's guess. And conspiracy theorists are going to have a field day because of this:

"The surgeon who treated Bhutto says she was killed by shrapnel from the blast when her suicide attacker blew himself up and not the shots he fired."

And this:

"In a press briefing the interior ministry says Bhutto died when her head struck the sunroof of the car in which she was travelling. It says no bullet or shrapnel was found in her body. Confusion over the exact cause of her death may well continue because her husband has refused permission for an autopsy." -- from the Guardian blog.

Then this, from the Associated Press reporter Ashraf Khan:

Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said that on Friday, the government recorded an "intelligence intercept" in which militant leader Baitullah Mehsud "congratulated his people for carrying out this cowardly act."

Cheema described Mehsud as an "al-Qaida leader" who was also behind the Karachi bomb blast in October against Bhutto that killed more than 140 people. He also announced the formation of two inquiries into Bhutto's death, one to be carried out by a high court judge and another by security forces.

Bhutto was killed Thursday when a suicide attacker shot at her and then blew himself up as she left a rally in Rawalpindi. Authorities initially said she died from bullet wounds, and a surgeon who treated her said she died from the impact of shrapnel on her skull.

But Cheema said she was killed when she tried to duck back into the vehicle, and the shock waves from the blast smashed her head into a lever attached to the sunroof, fracturing her skull, he said

Suffice to say, this is a hell of a mess.

Underappreciated U.S. Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich relesed this statement yesterday:

"This is a very dangerous moment for the world. Prime Minister Bhutto represented the forces of reform and the hope for an end to repression in a troubled region, and her death is a major loss to those efforts.

This terrible tragedy also underscores the need for the United States to adopt a new foreign policy toward the entire region because our current policy is all wrong. Our interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan has opened wide the doors of repression and violence. At this very moment, we should be working with leaders of the region to convene a meeting at the highest levels to begin a new effort towards stabilization and peace.

The United States must take a new direction in Pakistan and throughout the region. I met her several times, both in Washington and New York. She was deeply and genuinely dedicated to Pakistan. This is a tragic loss.

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