Monday, November 01, 2004
The reaction to Osama's October surprise has been as divided as the presidential election in general. The taped message will obviously help Bush because it reminds Americans that terrorism is a real threat that Kerry just doesn't know how to fight. The message will obviously help Kerry because if reminds Americans that Bush took his eye off the ball by going to Iraq instead of finishing of OBL. Bottom line: It's a wash. Most people have made up their minds, and the tape won't affect them one way or another; the few undecideds won't be able to process this any better than they have anything else.
Two things in the tape bear commenting on. One is the notion -- expressed by William Safire, among others -- that bin Laden seems almost conciliatory; that's not something a winning general does. He also is vehement in his denunctiation of Bush and complaints of how intrusive America has been (elections in Afghanistan went on without bloodshed, alas!). I can't see this as anything but good for Bush in the election.
The other thing is that if you really listen to the tape, OBL is trying to broaden his message to bring in "moderate Islam" instead of just relying on fundamentalist fanatics. This shows what a real threat he is and will remain. If anyone had doubts that the fight against terror will remain the biggest challenge we face in the foreseeable future, this should remove them. I have my beliefs about which presidential candidate can best meet that threat, and you undoubedly have yours.
Osama also puts front and center the issue that has barely been commented on in this race: Israel. Our commitment to that country will be tested as never before.
posted by Leo Morris at # 11:10 AM
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