The Spectacle Blog

Pakistan and the Presidential Candidates

By on 12.28.07 | 12:31PM

Center-right pundits love "the holiday from history is over" narratives, so I'm not surprised to see that becoming the conventional wisdom in the wake of Bhutto's murder. Polling data will soon enough confirm or refute the idea that the events in Pakistan will sway our own presidential politics. I suspect it will influence the Republican primary electorate, which is concerned about radical Islam, far more than the Democratic electorate, which seems more interested in a break from the Bush foreign policy than what that break might entail.

As noted earlier, these events have already pitted John McCain, who has foreign policy experience but has never run any large organization, against Mitt Romney, a skilled executive with no foreign policy experience. But maybe the beneficiary will be Rudy Giuliani, who can claim a bit of both. I happen to think that the claims on behalf of his executive prowess are far stronger than those made on behalf of his foreign policy know-how, but for most of the past year a plurality of Republicans has regarded Giuliani as the candidate who best understands the war on terror.

Personally, I'm with Ross Douthat -- the crisis in Pakistan ought to make us more skeptical of people who claim they can manage the complex affairs of foreign nations to our benefit rather than less skeptical. Considering the amount of knowledge required, even the most skilled and experienced 2008 candidates may as well be reading from 3 X 5 cards. But if Pakistan figures prominently in the minds of Republican primary voters, it probably will push them towards the candidates they view as the strongest leaders.

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