Saturday, October 30, 2004

Geraghty Has Some Thoughts

From the Kerry Spot.

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Okay, having had a good night (and morning) of sleep, I've gathered some more coherent thoughts on this Osama tape and the election.

First, is there any doubt that some bootleg DVD or videotape of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" made it to a remote mountain village somewhere near the Afghan-Pakistan border?

Now we hear Osama saying, "It never occurred to us that he, the commander in chief of the country, would leave 50,000 citizens in the two towers to face those horrors alone, because he thought listening to a child discussing her goats was more important."

Was the story of Bush's seven minutes in the schoolhouse really well known or a hot topic of discussion before Moore's movie came out? Is there any doubt that if not Osama, then one of his flunkies watched that movie and excitedly repeated the story to his spiritual leader, bubbling with excitement that even American filmmakers were exposing the foolishness of the Crusader Bush?

All the stuff Osama said about George H.W. Bush - (has 41 ever been mentioned in a previous Osama tape?) and the Saudis and corruption and the oil deals - does any of that sound any different from the arguments in Fahrenheit 9/11?

I could be proven wrong, but I now have drastically revised my prediction of what's going to happen on election night. A Bush landslide is now exponentially more likely, as every voter walks into the voting booth with the topic of terrorism on his or her mind. It's far and away Bush's strongest issue.

There are times when America wants the eloquent, nuanced multilateral, French-speaking, consensus-building, flexible and cautious negotiator. And then there are times when the country wants the plain-spoken butt-kicking aggressive unilateralist cowboy. Guess which time this is?

A majority of Kerry Spot readers won’t like reading this, but there is a part of me that right now pities John Kerry. This election - (I think, and I could be wrong) was going to be a fairly close race and now is going to be a landslide for Bush. To lose the election because Osama bin Laden decides to pop out of his cave and play pundit, reading the talking points of Michael Moore and sounding calmer than Lawrence O’Donnell… that’s a tough way to lose an long and hard-fought election. Team Kerry gave it their best shot, and now the closing days of the campaign are overtaken by events. It just wasn’t their year.

But this tape probably ought to trigger some serious soul-searching on the left. Let me give you a sense of what I mean:

Last night, I heard secondhand that a left-of-center friend said, during a discussion about the tape, “Well, now I actually agree with bin Laden, I mean, the stuff he said about Bush.”

It was probably meant as a joke, or as a statement of irony. I wasn’t there, so I don’t want to draw conclusions about the statement’s meaning, and apparently the topic of conversation shifted so that no one could really analyze what that speaker meant.

But I have little doubt that in some other corners of our country, a statement like that was probably said and wasn’t a joke, or wasn’t ironic.

There was an old saying about politics stopping at the water’s edge. There was a reason for this, and for the concept of the “loyal opposition.” Suppose the U.S. and another country were in a trade dispute. The other country would want different policies, and thus would want the incumbent party out of power. So they would seize on any criticism from the challenging party, and use it for rhetorical purposes to strengthen their case both with their own population and in other countries. “Even the American challenging party says the incumbent leader’s policies are unfair and a failure.” No party wants to be seen as putting foreign interests ahead of their own citizens’ interests, so they have to be on guard that their arguments aren’t providing fodder for foreign powers with different interests than America.

Over the last three years or so, we have seen that concept obliterated. We’ve seen a truly unparalleled deluge of criticism of the president that well beyond policy differences. He is tarred as a war criminal, a fool, an idiot, a warmonger, a man who trades blood for oil, a mass murderer of innocent civilians, a stooge of sinister corporate interests, a puppet of Cheney, a terrorist himself, the anti-Christ, the second coming of Hitler, a slave to Ariel Sharon, an anti-Muslim hatemonger… and I’m sure I’ve left out plenty.

This rhetoric has been picked up by the British left, the European left, the Arab press, and anti-American interests around the globe. And — to my knowledge — not one Democrat, not one voice on the left has said, “Hey, we know you hate Bush, but stay out of it. He’s our president, leave the criticism of him to us.”

Instead of reacting to the London Guardian’s silly letter-writing campaign with laughter or dismissive criticism, the left embraced it. Why would anyone welcome a foreign power’s advice on how to vote? Next Spring, the British people will hold their election. Why should they listen to my advice or opinion on the choice between Tony Blair and Michael Howard?

The far left hates George W. Bush with a raging fury. So does al-Qaeda. Was it really so shocking that the rhetoric of the former would eventually be taken up by the latter?

No, this tape should cause many on the left to stare into the mirror for a long time and ask, “What have I turned into? How did I become so reflexively partisan, so blinded by rage, so intemperate in my rhetoric that my own arguments are being echoed by a man who planned and enjoyed the mass murder of Americans?”

“How the hell did I reach the point where I agree with Osama bin Laden on Bush?”

UPDATE: I'm not going to go looking for too many "Well, now I agree with Osama" comments from lefties. But I had these comments by Daily Kos readers forwarded to me: "He couldn't believe that Shrub stayed in a classroom reading a book about a goat to kids while his country was being attacked. SMACKDOWN from OBL." Another one: "well I guess I have to agree with the man. Although it pains me. on a side note. Is Amazon shipping F911 to Afgan addresses?"

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