OBL just gave Democrats a psychological escape valve.
The early consensus conclusion is that Osama Bin Laden’s new video tape will seal President Bush’s victory next Tuesday. In it OBL spends much of his time bashing Bush, and no one believes that the American public will be intimidated (such as the Spanish were) into caving into OBL’s threats.
It has been suggested that John Kerry might gain mileage from the fact that Bin Laden is still alive. Another theory is that the attack on Bush is reverse psychology by OBL, and that he secretly wants Bush to win so as to further polarize Muslims and boost Al Queda recruitment.
When voters weigh the failure to kill OBL at Tora Bora against the prima facia display of vitriol he aims at President Bush, the scales tip heavily on the side of deciding to re-elect the man who our worst enemy obviously hates. And if this is just an elaborate ruse by OBL to deliver the election to Bush, then he will have indeed succeeded in re-electing the man responsible for killing or capturing many of his closest associates and driving Al Queda and the Taliban out of control of Afghanistan.
It’s analogous to the idea that America really loses every time we kill a terrorist, because the terrorist just becomes a martyr. And the response of most Americans is “Great. We’ll happily keep turning live terrorists into dead martyrs who can go to Heaven and enjoy their 72 virgins. Sounds like a win-win solution. It works for us.”
So let’s stipulate that Bush is now more likely to be President for another term. What will the impact be on Democrats?
The answer is that they have a perfect scapegoat for their loss. It won’t be Kerry’s fault, it won’t be the fault of their policies, it won’t be their position on Iraq, it won’t be the economy, it won’t be an inept campaign organization, and it won’t even be that the voters don’t share their values or their hatred of Bush.
The election loss will be blamed on Osama Bin Laden’s last-minute meddling in U.S. politics. Democrats will rationalize that they were headed for a narrow victory until this ultimate “October Surprise” came along.
And in some ways this will be very good for Democrats. Bush Derangement Syndrome was hitting such astronomical levels that many Democrats would have simply been unable to cope with a straightforward Bush victory. The psychological pressures would have torn them apart. Some would have been driven to violence (which we’ve already had a taste of with break-ins and assaults at various Bush headquarters around the country). Others would have concluded that democracy was dead in this country, and that tens of millions of voters were criminally responsible for ushering in the new dark age of fascism and imperialism.
Instead they can treat the election as an aberration, a momentary emotional spasm of protest against Osama Bin Laden. Their attention will shift from the supposed stolen election of 2000 to the brilliant way that OBL manipulated the American people into defeating the one man he feared the most: John Kerry.
The bad news for the Democrats is that they will fail to learn from their failures, and hence will remain stuck in the same rut caused by their positions on the issues, their incompetent candidates, and their unsuccessful strategies and tactics. Of course they won’t ever realize or admit that.
But the party of victimology will be able to anoint the ultimate political victim: John Kerry, the Democratic hero-candidate who was on the verge of victory before the terrorists managed to destroy him.