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 Post subject: E.J. DIONNE: WHAT'S AT STAKE IN IOWA
PostPosted: Sat Dec 29, 2007 7:01 pm 
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E.J.DIONNE: What’s at Stake in Iowa

Is it time for us to listen more closely to Sen. Biden?



DES MOINES, Iowa—The assassination of Benazir Bhutto came as a brutal reminder of the gravity of the decision Iowa’s voters will be rendering in their caucuses next Thursday night. Its impact may be felt most powerfully by Democrats who have been thinking less about issues than about the style and quality of leadership they are seeking from their next president.

All of a sudden, the politicians’ endless loop of television advertisements took on a new and somber significance. During “Good Morning America’s” coverage of Bhutto’s murder, up popped a Hillary Clinton ad where the message over grave music is that the moment “demands a leader with a steady hand who will weather the storms.” No kidding.

A short while later, there is a Joe Biden commercial that looks as if it had been produced precisely for this moment. “We don’t have to imagine the crises the next president will face,” intones a very serious voice. Indeed not.

Clinton, of course, is hoping that the chaos in Pakistan will fortify her relentless arguments about the importance of experience. Biden’s refusal to back away from his insistence that this should be a foreign policy election seems shrewder now than it did last week. Indeed, Biden has been warning not for months but for years that the United States faces its gravest challenge in Pakistan.

The television pictures from Pakistan ratified that Biden was no Chicken Little. He noted on Thursday that he had “twice urged President Musharraf to provide better security for Ms. Bhutto and other political leaders.” Biden was suddenly relevant—to television bookers for sure, but also, perhaps, to voters.

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