Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was praised in the wake of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto for demonstrating her command of the players and the issues at stake in Pakistan, even as another candidate, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, was criticized for stumbling over details.
But in two confident television appearances, on CNN and ABC, Clinton made an elementary error about Pakistani politics: She described President Pervez Musharraf as a “candidate” who would be “on the ballot.”
In fact, Musharraf was reelected to the presidency in October. The upcoming elections are for parliament, and while Musharraf’s party will be facing off against opposition parties, the president himself is not a candidate.
“He will NOT be on the ballot,” said a Pakistan scholar at Columbia University, Philip Oldenburg, in an e-mail. “These are parliamentary elections, where the contests are for a seat in the national assembly. The prime ministerial candidate typically fights for victory in a local constituency, as well as lead[ing] the party in a national campaign.”
A spokesman for Clinton, Howard Wolfson, said Clinton was referring to Musharraf’s party, not the president himself.
And Oldenburg said that “how well the PML-Q, the so-called ‘King’s Party,’ does would in effect be a referendum on Musharraf.”
But Clinton’s words appear unambiguously to describe Musharraf himself as a candidate.
In an email message alerting us to his report, Smith writes that he “can’t believe we all missed this at the time.” It remains to be seen whether anyone but Smith will take note. In the meantime, at Hot Air Bryan expands on the revelations vouchsafed in Ms. Hillary’s interviews and concludes:
So Hillary Clinton, smartest woman in the world and veteran of flying into the world