NBC: Bhutto Death Boosts Hillary, Cripples War on bin Laden

NBC’s Today found a liberal take on the Bhutto assassination on Friday morning. Reporter Andrea Mitchell not only declared it was "a major blow to U.S. foreign policy," they found an expert to underline Mitchell's thesis that "Without her, hunting down Osama bin Laden is now even less likely." Mitchell also suggested that the murder assisted Hillary Clinton’s campaign: "The prospect of a foreign policy crisis immediately transformed the presidential campaign and in the close Democratic race boosted Hillary Clinton's argument that experience, including her own relationship with Bhutto, trumps change." Knowing a world leader qualifies you as firm and in command during a crisis?

Mitchell also saw a political upside for John McCain and Rudy Giuliani on the Republican side.

As for the claim that Bhutto’s death makes the war on Osama bin Laden much worse, Jay Solomon and Peter Wonacott of The Wall Street Journal reported a different story line on November 23:

Many senior U.S. officials remain skeptical of Ms. Bhutto, viewing her party as too beholden to the country's old land-owning class and believing she would be unreliable in the war against al Qaeda. They also suspect her recent negotiations with Gen. Musharraf were aimed largely at clearing her name of various corruption allegations.

Here’s the transcript of the Mitchell piece by MRC’s Justin McCarthy:

ANN CURRY: So what does Bhutto's assassination mean for the Bush administration's War on Terror. NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell takes a look at this. Andrea, good morning.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Well, good morning Ann. Bhutto's death is a major blow to U.S. foreign policy, which is now facing a grim reality, a nuclear armed Pakistan with an unpopular president and no clear leader for the opposition with elections in Pakistan scheduled at least for less than two weeks away. Chaos across Pakistan in the aftermath of Bhutto's assassination. From his Texas ranch, President Bush pressed Pakistan's leaders not to postpone elections.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We urge them to honor Benazir Bhutto's memory by continuing with the democratic process for which she so bravely gave her life.

MITCHELL: The U.S. supported Bhutto's return to Pakistan from exile last October, hoping she would press Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, to hold real elections. But only hours after arriving, she was targeted in a failed assassination attempt. She blamed President Musharraf for lax security. Resentments festered. Bhutto retained U.S. support because she shared the administration's commitment to fighting Al Qaeda. Without her hunting down Osama bin Laden is now even less likely.

ROBERT GRENIER, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM CHIEF: Absent a galvanizing public figure who can lead Pakistan against the Islamic extremists, it's very hard to see how Pakistan is going to sustain its level of commitment to this fight over the long term.

MITCHELL: The prospect of a foreign policy crisis immediately transformed the presidential campaign and in the close Democratic race boosted Hillary Clinton's argument that experience, including her own relationship with Bhutto, trumps change.

HILLARY CLINTON: I have known Benazir Bhutto for more than 12 years. She's someone whom I was honored to visit as first lady when she was prime minister.

MTICHELL: Barack Obama, like all the candidates, felt the need to show their foreign policy credentials.

BARACK OBAMA: We want to make clear that we stand with the people of Pakistan in their quest for democracy and against the terrorists who threaten the common security of the world.

MITCHELL: The refocus national security debate also strengthened the hand of old hands like John McCain.

JOHN McCAIN: If I were president of the United States I would be on the phone right now, and I would be meeting with the National Security Council.

MITCHELL: And in fact, John Edwards did get Musharraf on the phone.

JOHN EDWARDS: And we had a conversation in which I urged him to continue the democratization process. He told me, he gave me his assurances that he intended to do that.

MITCHELL: The issue also gave life to the hallmark issue of Rudy Giuliani's campaign.

RUDY GIULIANI: Each one of these events that happens reminds me that we have to do everything we can to prevent these terrorist attacks.

MITCHELL: So in a campaign that until now that has focused almost entirely on domestic issues, the crisis in Pakistan is a reminder to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire that these candidates are also auditioning for the job of commander in chief.

This is a strange and inaccurate ending. Much of the year's campaign has focused on Iraq, at least through Hillary Clinton taunting General Petraeus that having a positive attitude about Iraq required a "willing suspension of disbelief."

War on Terrorism Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential
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