David Reinhard is an associate editor and columnist for the Oregonian. He has an excellent offering today. Key graphs:
Yes, we are a polarized nation. Our politics are embittered when they’re not silly. Our presidential nomination process is out of control. But the Bhutto assassination reminds us of two things: One, how lucky we are. Two, how serious the stakes are in this election, because of events in Pakistan.
Our candidates don’t hit the campaign trail fearing there are forces that want them dead or that the administration in power won’t provide adequate security for them — even after prior assassination attempts. A front-loaded primary schedule, ad nauseam debates, even vicious attack ads are trifles next to what Bhutto faced in Pakistan. And what the next American president will face in our dealings with Pakistan.
An already complex and dangerous — perhaps impossible — situation became all the more so as a result of last week’s assassination and suicide bombing in Rawalpindi.
Pakistan is a central front in the war against Islamic jihadists, and Bhutto was the Pakistani leader most committed to fighting the war on terror. She had said, for example, she would let U.S. troops hunt down Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. She was a democrat and a force for moderation. It’s still unclear if al-Qaida and its allies were responsible for her murder. But they swore they would kill her before she returned from exile, and here’s what they claimed Thursday: “We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen.”
An enemy of the mujahadeen and a woman no less.
No matter who the GOP nominee is, I’ll support him. And if the Democratic nominee wins in November, they’ll need support in the war as well. Between Iran, North Korea and Pakistan, it will be an incredibly difficult term for the next president.