Bloggers on Bilawal Bhutto's ascension to head of the PPP.

Bloggers on Bilawal Bhutto's ascension to head of the PPP.

Bloggers on Bilawal Bhutto's ascension to head of the PPP.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Dec. 31 2007 5:31 PM

Rising Son

Bloggers ponder the implications of Benazir Bhutto's son taking over her party, parse new video from the slain Pakistani leader's final moments, and ponder Michael Bloomberg's plan for bipartisanship.

Rising son: Three days after his mother's assassination, 19-year-old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has been tapped to take the helm of the Pakistan Peoples Party. His father, Asif Ali Zardari, will manage the party's affairs while Bilawal finishes his undergraduate degree at Oxford. "Democracy is the best revenge," Bilawal said in televised remarks Sunday.

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At Chapati Mystery, Chicago Ph.D. student Manan Ahmed augurs that hereditary succession will continue in Pakistan until real democracy takes root. "There is no democracy outside of the party, no reason for it to exist within," he writes. The "reality is that 'politics' in Pakistan has, and will, remain a hereditary, charismatic domain built around cults of personalities - until and unless electoral politics takes firm roots."

Temporal, the Canadian at Baithak, bristles at Bilawal's ascension. "In her death, she spoke like the feudal she was at heart, treating her party like her jaagir (personal fiefdom.) She wrote the leadership of PPP should remain within the Bhutto clan," he writes. "How can any party fight for democracy, and free and fair alphabet-soup of demands and display not one iota of conscience at this blatant travesty of democratic norms? … Today, greed won - injustice won - nepotism won- once again - and you, me and Pakistan lost."

At All Things Pakistan, Adil Najam offers young Bilawal some unsolicited counsel: "My advise to him - not that he asked - is that he should listen always to his heart and mind, well before he listens to anyone around him. … Let him follow that which was best in Benazir Bhutto and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and avoid their follies."

Blogging at the Guardian'sComment is free, Hassan Abbas, who served in both Bhutto and Musharraf's administrations, declares that elections must go ahead with Bilawal at the helm of the PPP. "PPP has a huge task ahead under the new leadership of Benazir's 19-year-old son Bilawal and his father Asif Zardari - a combination of youth and experience guided by the Bhutto legacy. This is in line with south Asia's democratic traditions - where individuals and their backgrounds are often deemed more important than institutions because of the public's emotional ties to charismatic leaders. It is quite likely that PPP will sweep the coming elections, whether held on January 8 or a bit later, benefiting from an additional sympathy vote all across the country. Such an eventuality, if uninterrupted by the military establishment, will give Pakistan another chance to be rescued."

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Read more about Bilawal's appointment.

Roll video: Britain's Channel 4 has aired new footage of Benazir Bhutto's last moments—some are comparing it to the Zapruder film of the JFK assassination—that further calls into question the Pakistani government's assertion that Bhutto died from hitting her head on the sunroof handle. Bloggers are turning into ballistics experts. (Video footage below from Channel 4.)

"Finally we get to see her react. Her head does jerk sharply to the right after the shots but whether that's a reflex in response to the sound or from the force of a bullet hitting her, I can't tell," analyzes conservative Allahpundit at Hot Air. "She does appear to be safely inside the car when the bomb goes off, though, and since no one else inside was killed by the force of it, it's hard to believe the shockwave did her in." And at Captain's Quarters, righty Ed Morrissey is convinced Bhutto was shot: "This puts to lie any notion that Bhutto did not die from the gunshots that can clearly be heard in this and other videos, just before the explosion. Her head jerks to the right as the hair and scarf rise, and then she falls into the car going sideways. After she falls completely back into the vehicle, the bomb explodes," he writes. "Musharraf has a huge credibility problem, and this video makes it crystal clear."

But conservative Confederate Yankee remains unsure if Bhutto was shot: "While the new film shows her hair and shawl moving, however, it is not conclusive. Unlike the Zapruder-filmed assassination (YouTube) of John F. Kennedy, however, there is not the spray of flesh and bone one might have expected from a pistol blast at near contact range of approximately six feet." Greg Pollowitz at the National Review's Media Blog concurs: "I've watched the video a few times now and I'm not sure it shows what Channel 4, CNN and MSNBC are insinuating it does. Bhutto seems to drop straight down in this video after the gunfire is heard. Bhutto supporters are claiming she was shot as many as three times. I would think that if she had been shot three times, the force of the bullets striking her would have caused her body to react differently than it did in the video."

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Read more about the video.

Bipartisan bores: Bloggers are dismissive of a Michael Bloomberg-led initiative to hammer out a plan for a "government of national unity" at a meeting of Democrats and Republicans in Oklahoma on Jan. 7.

"They seem to believe Americans need to get unified. Unified behind what? Behind unity. ... Bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship doesn't mean anything," scoffs Steve Benen, guest-blogging at the Washington Monthly'sPolitical Animal.

At liberal Daily Kos, Kagro X is more than a bit skeptical of this bipartisan exercise: "So they're having a Big Bipartisan Serious Person's Kumbaya Love-In for America, only this time the people attending aren't Dirty Fucking Hippies or pajama-wearing, mom's-basement-bound shut-ins or Vinnies in the Bronx. No, no! They're Very Serious People. You can tell because you'll only have to look about half of them up on Wikipedia."

And TPM Cafe, Art Appraiser sees Bloomberg kicking off his campaign as an independent candidate for president. "I always suspected that this is what Bloomberg was up to all along--keeping a wild card aside to play if he didn't like what was being offered up in the campaigns."

Read more about Bloomberg's bipartisan meeting.

Sonia Smith is an associate editor at Texas Monthly.