Deb Gauthier: All in the family with Bhuttos

Deborah E. Gauthier

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated and her dying command, as stated in her will, is that her 19-year-old son, Bilawal, take over leadership of Pakistan's People's Party. But he's just a boy. So while he continues his education at Oxford University, his father, Asif Ali Zardari, will lead the party.

And this is the woman who was, in the words of more than one U.S. official, Pakistan's best hope for democracy.

No matter how you look at it, appointing a successor is not democratic, so it makes me more than a little uneasy that some of our elected officials - including President George W. Bush - thought Bhutto could lead the way to democracy in Pakistan.

Obviously, the slain Bhutto had a significantly different definition of democracy when compared to that of the United States.

She succeeded her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, after his assassination. And now her son succeeds her. Give members of the People's Party the right to elect a new party leader? No need. It's best to keep all the power, and all the wealth, all in the family.

Never mind her successor is too young for the job and too inexperienced to have formed honest, well-thought-out political opinions on anything. His mother has passed the target from her back to his, whether he wants it or not, and whether members of the People's Party want it or not.

Fair and democratic elections? Please. Only fools believe that's a possibility in Pakistan, which is years, quite possibly decades, away from a U.S. defined "democracy."

Bhutto's will proves that. She, like all familial, military and theocratic rulers in the Arab world, see democracy as just a word that forges a path to gullible America's billions. We pass it out like candy to rulers who say one thing, and do another, without repercussion.

In the meantime, voters in the United States can rest easy knowing our elections are fair and democratic. Or can we? Did Bush steal the 2000 election from Al Gore via a Supreme Court vote? Strong evidence suggests he did. Did Bush supporters "fix" the votes in Ohio, stealing the election from John Kerry. Many, with evidence behind them, believe he did.

And though familial leadership is something that can't happen here - we are a democracy, after all - if Hillary Clinton is elected in November that will mean two families will have controlled the White House for 20 years, 24 if Clinton is elected to a second term.

It's not quite as blatant as Bhutto's will, but an interesting observation none-the-less. Power in the United States is confined to a small group of wealthy and privileged men and women who have lost sight of the "average" man. Hillary will serve for four or eight years, and then it will be time for another Bush in the White House. Jeb Bush, governor in Florida when the Florida Supreme Court gave his brother George the White House, hasn't had a turn yet.

Perhaps we should break that cycle, before it's too late.

Deb Gauthier can be reached at

The MetroWest Daily News