The press focused a lot on Huckabee for misstating the status of Pakistan’s state of martial law following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Twice now, Hillary Clinton made a mistake in an answer to a question about Pakistan. According to the Politico, she said that President Pervez Musharraf was “a ‘candidate’ who would be ‘on the ballot.'” However, as the Politico points out, Musharraf was reelected on October 6th:
Senator Hillary 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 Governor 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 re-elected 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.
Musharraf’s reelection was all over the mainstream media because of the controversy surrounding it, which makes Hillary’s mistake that much more glaring. Here’s what she said:
“If President Musharraf wishes to stand for election, then he should abide by the same rules that every other candidate will have to follow,” she told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer (.pdf) December 28.
“He could be the only person on the ballot. I don’t think that’s a real election,” she told ABC’s George Stephanopolous December 30.
Many of you may remember that back in 1999 when then governor George W. Bush was running for president, a reporter surprised Bush with a “pop quiz” about international leaders. Bush didn’t do so well, and the media pounced on it, showing the video over and over again. However, as governor of Texas, he wasn’t in regular contact with foreign leaders, so his lack of knowledge was somewhat explainable. This is also the case for Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has made a big deal of the fact that, as first lady, she was in the White House for 8 years and traveled to many foreign lands to meet with foreign leaders and dignitaries, which she argues gives her foreign policy experience above and beyond that of her Democratic primary opponents. She also said that she risked her life on one of these trips, a characterization that is now being described as an exaggeration:
The dictum around the Oval Office in the ’90s, she added, was: “If a place was too dangerous, too poor or too small, send the first lady.”
It turns out that Clinton wasn’t quite flying solo into harm’s way that day.
She was, in fact, leading a goodwill entourage that included baggy-pants funnyman Sinbad, singer Sheryl Crow and Clinton’s daughter, Chelsea, then 15, according to an account of the March 1995 trip in her autobiography “Living History.”
As the plane approached the runway, the pilot ordered the Clintons into the armored front of the plane, Clinton writes.
What’s not clear is whether Sinbad or Crow were invited to the cockpit or had to brave it out in the unprotected rear.
Senator Clinton is looking quite foolish after setting up her foreign policy experience like this because she has set an expectation that she didn’t fulfill. Not knowing that Pervez Musharraf is the president of Pakistan who won reelection in October and that the elections on January 8th, which will probably be postponed after Bhutto’s assassination, are for Parliament is really unacceptable, especially since Pakistan is such an important hot spot in the War on Terror.
Update: Bryan at Hot Air, who is far more informed on Pakistan politics than I, points out that not only was Hillary wrong about what kind of elections are taking place and that Musharraf will not on the ballot, but he also points out that she was completely wrong on everything she said about Pakistan. Bryan explains:
Let’s take this piecemeal. The Pakistani People’s Party, or PPP, is a hereditary party. Benazir Bhutto became its leader when her father was executed after conviction in a highly questionable trial (not “assassinated,” as Clinton has said), and upon Bhutto’s assassination, her son took the reins because Bhutto had left the party’s leadership to him in her will. Therefore, there was no choice to be made in the PPP’s leadership. It had been made before Bhutto’s death, because the PPP isn’t democratically run.
Second, Nawaz Sharif can’t run. He’s a convicted felon. His party can participate in elections, but he’s barred from running. Musharraf could have pardoned Sharif as he had pardoned Bhutto in late 2007, but he hadn’t, so according to the law Sharif was barred from standing for election.
Now that you know the true facts, be sure to watch the video of Hillary’s comments so you can actually see her in all her ignorance.
Update II: Bryan asked why none of her opponents have called her on her errors. MSNBC notes that Joe Biden is commenting on Hillary’s gaffe, but only the part about Musharraf not being on the ballot.