It was all so predictable. I am not referring to the assasination of Benazir Bhutto, which is regrettable, but to the reaction of her death in the United States. Let us count the ways.

1. The presidential candidates engage in an unseemly contest of who knew Bhutto the best. Almost every candidate began his or her response to the Bhutto assasination with some variation of “I was just talking to Ms. Bhutto” last week or last month. Then they nominate Bhutto for sainthood.

A notable exception to this was John McCain. He was the only one to mention the fact that Ms. Bhutto returned to Pakistan on her own volition understanding the risk to her life. He also was the only one to defend Musharraf, correctly pointing out that Musharraf took over a failed state that was a result of corruption at the top. Bhutto’s husband and brother were at the head of the list of corrupt politicians. He also stated that while Musharraf takes a lot of heat for not routing Al Qaeda from Pakistan’s northwest territory, this has been a lawless land for the past one thousand years and not even Alexander the Great could conquer the region. McCain made it sound like a suicide mission. He also detailed the risk of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands and how important it is to the region to have a stable Pakistan. My hat is off to John McCain for having the guts to tell the truth while others stick to a tightly structured script.

2. The main stream media would immediately try to blame Musharraf. They even have Ms. Bhutto’s own words to support the claim. She sent an email to a friend of hers in the U.S. stating that Musharraf was to blame if anything happened to her since he did not ensure her safety. This sounds, at least to me, like someone playing politics. Certainly Ms. Bhutto understood that there were multiple assassination attempts against Musharraf’s life and that he is lucky to be alive today. If he could not ensure his own safety, how could he guarantee her safe passage in a de-stabilized country of 165 million where elements of the Taliban and Al Qaeda have infiltrated the infrastructure of the intelligence and military communities? Simply put, she had to know the danger she was facing in Pakistan. To her credit, she went back anyway. Predictably, the main stream press has not seen fit to have this discussion.

3. The left wing loonies will blame the Bush administration for the assassination. Naturally, this has to be President Bush’s fault especially if your name is Keith Olbermann. Clearly, George W. Bush through his minion, Condi Rice forced Ms. Bhutto to run for office in Pakistan. The next part of the left wing story will be that the Bush team somehow blackmailed her and then contracted with Al Qaeda to have her killed. Some noted figure on the left will state that theory. Sadly, it will be believed by many.

Benazir Bhutto was a politician. Was she better than most? Maybe, maybe not. Was she a saint? Definitely not. She was a politician and people in her line of work are opportunists by nature. I suspect that she was no different. On the whole, Bhutto would most likely have been a positive presence in Pakistan especially if she could have found a way to really work with Musharraf. Democracy is a worthy goal in any country. However, the transition to a democracy for a country in that region is fraught with risks and unanticipated danger. I am certain that Ms. Bhutto understood the risks involved in her quest. Sadly, we will never know what would have happened had she lived. I suspect, like all other politicians, she would have experienced both highs and lows that are a normal part of a politician’s career.

***Update***

Bhutto’s 19 year old son has been named the head of his mother’s party because Bhutto’s husband has some issues with corruption. The kid starts his career in politics by announcing that he will continue his studies at Oxford for the forseeable future. Smart move, kid. You might have a future.