The L.A. Times has morphed Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama’s over-the-top campaign rhetoric that he would attack Pakistan into “suggestions by U.S. politicians that American forces unilaterally strike” that country. But, no where did the story mention Obama, nor that no Administration officials are advocating such a move. How is it that Obama’s absurd gaffe has suddenly become a U.S. political policy that the Pakistanis fear is impossible to know, but the way the L.A.Times wrote the story, one would cast blame on the Bush Administration instead of Obama for this slight to Musharraf and the Pakistani government.

The story written by Laura King revolves around Musharraf’s increasing security concerns and calls for him to step back from power. It also reveals the fact that Musharraf is sending prime minister Shaukat Aziz to the jirga (a traditional council) in Afghanistan instead of attending himself, a move that supposedly surprised the Bush Administration. According to the L.A.Times, one of the reasons Musarraf made this decision is because U.S. “officials” are saying we should invade his country. But the only person who said such a thing in such a public forum was Barack Obama, who’s hardly in a position to be setting U.S. policy toward Pakistan. Yet, the Times acts as if the U.S. government is advocating for just such an attack which, in the way the Times writes, makes it seems as if this is a Bush gaffe.

Pakistan has been angry over official and unofficial suggestions by U.S. politicians that American forces unilaterally strike Al Qaeda figures believed to be taking shelter in Pakistan’s tribal lands if Musharraf’s government fails to do so.

Pakistan, which is in the midst of a major military offensive against militants in the semiautonomous border region, said any such U.S. action would violate its sovereignty.

Why no mention of Barack Obama and the scolding he has taken for his over-the-top rhetoric?

Does anyone doubt that if a Republican candidate had said something on the campaign trail that caused a foreign ally to react in such a visceral way that the L.A.Times would waste no time in linking that candidate’s name to such a story, regardless if his rhetoric was “official” or not?

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Pakistanis have every reason and right to be indignant at Obama’s rhetoric and if we ever undertook such a strike, it would be an abrogation of that country’s sovereignty — no matter if we felt we had to do it or not. So they have every right to be upset over the comment even from just a junior Senator on the campaign trail. Obama is an “official” U.S. politician, after all. From the Pakistani view point he is not much separated from the Bush Administration.

But the L.A.Times knows better. They know that Obama does not represent at any time the official policy of either the Bush Administration or the United States. They know better than to classify Obama’s comments as “official and unofficial suggestions.”

Unfortunately for us, this effort by the Times to obscure Obama’s place in this story, though, makes it all appear to be the “government’s” fault which makes it ultimately the Bush Administration’s fault. And that is, in the end, just what they want.

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