There was so much stuff that was just plumb silly on the death of Benazir Bhutto over the holidays. One commentator seemed to think that Bhutto’s death would help Hillary Clinton-not because of Clinton’s claim to have known Bhutto, but because the public would see a woman operating at such an epic level!

Just because of the inanity of much of the commentary, I thought I’d post an excellent piece by Christopher Hitchens (who, like a great swath of the media, had interviewed Buttho). Hitchens captures both the complexity and the tragedy of Bhutto’s departure from the scene:

“Daughter of Destiny is the title she gave to her autobiography. She always displayed the same unironic lack of embarrassment. How prettily she lied to me, I remember, and with such a level gaze from those topaz eyes, about how exclusively peaceful and civilian Pakistan’s nuclear program was. How righteously indignant she always sounded when asked unwelcome questions about the vast corruption alleged against her and her playboy husband, Asif Ali Zardari. (The Swiss courts recently found against her in this matter; an excellent background piece was written by John Burns in the New York Times in 1998.) And now the two main legacies of Bhutto rule-the nukes and the empowered Islamists-have moved measurably closer together.

“This is what makes her murder such a disaster. There is at least some reason to think that she had truly changed her mind, at least on the Taliban and al-Qaida, and was willing to help lead a battle against them. She had, according to some reports, severed the connection with her rather questionable husband. She was attempting to make the connection between lack of democracy in Pakistan and the rise of mullah-manipulated fanaticism. Of those preparing to contest the highly dubious upcoming elections, she was the only candidate with anything approaching a mass appeal to set against the siren calls of the fundamentalists. And, right to the end, she carried on without the fetish of ‘security’ and with lofty disregard for her own safety. This courage could sometimes have been worthy of a finer cause, and many of the problems she claimed to solve were partly of her own making. Nonetheless, she perhaps did have a hint of destiny about her.”