THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG…I got my first email that Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto had been killed at 8:47 a.m. this morning. I started hearing about “what this means” for the U.S. presidential race by about 8:56 a.m. (By 9:30 a.m., Joe Scarborough apparently was telling MSNBC viewers that this is good news for Rudy Giuliani.) It’s just that kind of news cycle, I suppose.
Given that details of the events in Rawalpindi are still emerging, it’s obviously far too soon to know what effect, if any, this might have on the Dems’ and Republicans’ nominating process. Indeed, it’s not unreasonable to think most Americans probably don’t know who Benazir Bhutto is, and her assassination will not necessarily influence their presidential preferences.
But for those who are engaged in current events, the speculation is already well underway.
Bloody images of Pakistan in turmoil, which will dominate newspapers and TV news just as Iowa voters are making their final decision and the caucuses are only a week away , will remind voters that this is a dangerous world.
And the aftermath — still very unclear in the chaos surrounding Bhutto’s death — will test the agility of the presidential campaigns in dealing with an unexpected and momentous event; a dry run for daily life at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
I suppose it’s fairly easy to guess what the various message maestros are going to tell us.
Bhutto’s assassination is bound to help Hillary Clinton, because she has experience on the national stage.
No, say John McCain backers, this is bound to help him because he has military experience.
No, say Barack Obama backers, this is bound to help him because in a time of crisis, we clearly need someone with good judgment.
No, say Rudy Giuliani backers, this is bound to help him because he was the mayor of a city attacked by terrorists.
No, say Mitt Romney backers, this is bound to help him because it hurts Mike Huckabee, whose understanding of foreign affairs rivals that of small children.
No, say Joe Biden backers, this is bound to help him because he has more foreign policy experience than most of the candidates in both parties put together.
My hunch is no one has the foggiest idea which U.S. presidential candidate, if any, Bhutto’s death helps — but it’s not the most important part of the story. Apparently, though, that won’t deter the breathless chatter.
(edited slightly for clarity)