Monday, October 6, 2008

Mark Green, bin Laden and the election for the presidency of the United States

The other day Mark Green, former mayoral candidate and public advocate for New York City, wrote in the Huffington Post that an “October Surprise” might materialize in the form of Osama bin Laden injecting himself into the elections here in the United States. I have written before about an October Surprise by Bush concerning the capture of bin Laden. But the scenarios that Green lays out in his article are just as ( and maybe more) likely.

I have often thought how bin Laden and Bush needed the other (or the ideological equivalent of “the other”) in order to achieve their respective goals. Without one or the other playing the role of agitator, the other loses the warrior status among the people they lead.

A militaristic-by-default United States helps bin Laden by ensuring that whatever he does, be it video showing he is alive or a terror attack here or abroad, the United States will overreact and over extend its reach. Bin Laden’s goals are further advanced by a United States that excessively retaliates and, in pure panic, responds without regard to consequences.

If, by appearing on video tape or, God forbid, another attack here in the United States, bin Laden gets the United States to respond with “decisive action” rather than deliberative action, he knows that the decisive action will surely include collateral damage. Collateral damage, of course, is just a nice way of saying “innocent civilians killed”. Every time the United States' responds militaristically and collateral damage occurs, the terrorists are ensured new recruits to their cause.

Conversely, the Bush administration, as well as their Republican ideologues running for office, benefit when bin Laden moves from the periphery to the center of the American psyche. Though an appearance by bin Laden or an attack on US soil by the Taliban does reinforce that bin Laden has not been captured “dead or alive”, it also reinforces something far more significant. It reinforces the idea, falsely to be sure, that Republicans are best at fighting the “war on terror” and are tougher in their response. If bin Laden magically appears on our television screens just before an election, as he did in 2004, it reminds the public at large that he is still a terrorist that needs to be dealt with. And a scared public tends to believe the Republicans are the best at dealing with such a terrorist.

That is why the recent line of attack by Sarah Palin could devastate the Obama campaign. The attack, void of fact, thoroughly debunked and done in a vacuum, will not be effective. But, should bin Laden appear, Palin’s assertion that Obama “pals around with terrorist”, becomes fatal. The parasitic claim does not need to be true in order to spread and become fatal. It simply needs a secondary host from which to feed. And that secondary host is bin Laden.

So what are we to do to blunt the effectiveness should an attack or video tape materialize in the next few weeks? I echo Mark Green’s suggestion that we get ahead of the curve and make it clear, through our voices via conversations with friends as well as posts such as this, that we fully expect bin Laden to inject himself in this presidential race just as he did in 2004. And we need to make sure that people understand that bin Laden has been on the loose now for over seven years after two wars, countless lives and a trillion dollars later and he has still not been caught. And all those efforts were done under a Republican administration that took their eye off the target and made the world a far more dangerous place.

Just as we need to keep telling people that the Republicans failed us economically, we need, also, to tell people that their ideas have failed us militaristically. And that if McCain were to win, his flair for drama and his tendency to overreact would be devastating to this country. We also need to highlight that if something were to happen to McCain, the control of our military would be in Sarah Palin’s hands. And Sarah Palin, no doubt, would be more than willing to hasten her vision of eschatology.

Start talking about these scenarios people. Otherwise if or when they happen, we as progressives will be left flat footed and the result will ensure a McCain / Palin victory.


Chris said...

Hmmm, I've never lost my taste for a juicy conspiracy theory and last night's 60 Minutes aired a segment that kinda sorta confirmed your claim about Bush and Bin Laden needing each other. The story is here: Elite Officer Recalls Bin Laden Hunt

Anonymous said...

Ive thought about this as well. Agree 100%

Yup Yep said...

U & Green have written exactly what I have thought about for months now.

These smears could take hold if something like you said comes about

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