American political effect of the assassination

Washington Times:

Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sen. John McCain stand to gain the most politically from the assassination of Benazir Bhutto just days before the crucial Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, political observers said yesterday.

"On the Republican side, this could have serious implications for Giulilani or McCain, particularly as they duke it out in Iowa for third place," pollster John Zogby said. "This may be one of the most important third-place showings in Iowa history, and the stakes are high for both candidates."

For Democrats, most observers agreed that the timing of the former Pakistani prime minister's assassination plays to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's experience as the wife of a two-term president.

"On the Democratic side, will liberal caucus voters decide to accent Clinton's leadership and experience or Barack Obama's identity?" Mr. Zogby asked. "My gut instinct tells me that Clinton is helped by this, especially with her husband by her side."

Mrs. Bhutto's assassination also could help lagging candidates, such as Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, get a second look from voters.


I don't think anything can help Biden's candidacy. He is a mental light weight who tries to make up for that deficiency with a monumental ego. Like his fellow plagiarists, Ted Kennedy, he wields for more stroke on capitol hill than his intellect would suggest, but when it comes to a national race his defects are exposed.

I don't think it helps Hillary Clinton that much either, because she is far to divisive a candidate to inspire or rally people in a crisis.

While both Giuliani and McCain have raised their experience as a reason to support them following the murder, neither seems all that persuasive at this point. I do think this hurts Democrats more than Republicans, because it shows their holiday from history attitude about the war being waged against the world by Islamic religious bigots is far more serious than they would like to believe. It is going to keep on interfering with their hopes of diverting funds from the war to domestic spending on their constituents.

E.J. Dionne focuses on the Democrat political reaction.


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