who needs rove when you've got bin laden

So Newsweek reports the Nation rallying behind the President, partly in response to bin Laden’s attack on Bush (in particular, his mentioning of this scene of Bush immediately after the attack on 9/11.

We are an astonishingly manipulable people.

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25 Responses to who needs rove when you've got bin laden

  1. Tayssir John Gabbour says:

    It’s our media’s fault. Many Americans (even myself) pointed out Al Qaeda had to influence the election. But our useless central media failed us by not articulating this obvious truth and getting us used to it.

    I’m just surprised he didn’t explicitly side with Kerry or attack, similar to Madrid. By definition (from the US Army), “Terrorism is the calculated use of violence, or the threat of violence, to produce goals that are political or ideological in nature.” So it was clearly remiss of the media not to factor the Al Qaeda influence and get us all used to the idea. What else do terrorists do but influence elections and decisionmaking?

    Well, that and the Kerry campaign was too dumb to point out that bin Laden is laughing at us. He should take a page from Nader’s rhetoric and point that out, and that he’s the one to stop it. They should run ads immediately, if legally possible, quoting Bush saying that he’s not really concerned about bin Laden.

  2. Max Lybbert says:

    Well, aside from the oddness of Bin Laden trying to affect an election peacefully, I found this to be a non-event.

    Perhaps Bin Laden has realized something many voters haven’t — both candidates have promised to hunt him down. He clearly doesn’t like the pressure Bush put on him, and Kerry has implied that he would put even more pressure on Bin Laden (why else does he say that Iraq is a distraction?). I believe Kerry would use a different kind of pressure, which is why I won’t vote for him, but also why I won’t be clinically depressed if Kerry wins.

    An attack before the election might cause people to rally to either side, but the first item on the President’s agenda in 2005 would be finding and killing Bin Laden. The second item would be killing his successor. By offering a truce, he may actually believe that whoever wins will stop attacking him, and he can get back to his plans of world domination under strict Islamic law.

    For the record, I doubt Bin Laden truly believed he could nickle-and-dime his way to world domination (30 dead per attack in a world of 5 billion, you can do the math). Yes, 9/11 left far more than 30 dead, but even Bin Laden didn’t expect it to. I believe his short-term goal is to build a small Middle Eastern empire of 10% faithful armed gunmen, and 90% frightened “converts.” I’m not sure what his true long-term goal is, but I do believe the US should keep it from ever happening.

  3. Anon says:

    The point being – if we leave them alone, they will leave us alone. Sounds fair to me! That doesn’t at all take away from the fact that Bin Laden is in AFGHANISTAN and still at large!!!! NOT IRAQ. How everyone continues to miss that point is beyond me. And by the by, Afghanistan is not the epitome of democracy, peace and quiet that this administration would have us believe.

  4. laservisor says:

    Well the Bushies did call it a “liitle gift” The anthropologist, Marcel Mauss, said that all gifts are laden with power, because they have to be reciprocated. Wonder what W has in store. Didn’t Daddy belong to the CIA when it was training Osama as a mujahadeen?? hmmm.

  5. Max Lybbert says:

    I’m sorry, Anon and laservisor, I don’t see it.

    First, Anon, I don’t believe Bin Laden will actually leave us alone. His “business plan” involves recruiting people so he can be a powerful warlord where he lives by telling his recruits that he will fight the “Great Satan.” If he were to leave the US alone, it would look like a defeat to his potential recruits, and his reputation would suffer greatly.

    Second, laservisor, “guilt by association” is against liberal theology. Beyond that, the US only backed muhajadeen in Afghanistan when the alternative was a communist Afghanistan. I think it was a bad idea, but it was somewhat defensible considering the circumstances. If you wish to see more of the same, vote Kerry. I don’t mean that to denigrate Kerry, but it is side effect of seeing the world in shades of gray instead of black and white.

  6. Alan McCann says:

    Tayssir said: “So it was clearly remiss of the media not to factor the Al Qaeda influence and get us all used to the idea.”

    My response:
    1. You live in a scary world, Tayssir, if I understand your view of the role of media.
    2. Where have you been for the last 10 months: the potential impact of an Al Qaeda “message” has been a regular part of the news.

    Anon: We did not go into Iraq to get Bin Laden, we went into Iraq to effect a sea change in the politics of the region. Iraq was picked for multiple reasons.

  7. Max Lybbert says:

    I’m worried that my previous comment about Bin Laden’s likely motives will be misunderstood. Let me hash things out a little more.

    Bin Laden used to have the power of a king. He decided who lived, died, and was assigned various missions. He met with heads of state, and received material support from several Middle East governments. He kept this power by recruiting soldiers to fight the Great Satan.

    For years, Bin Laden attacked this Great Satan, but in a way that (absent help from Allah), would never lead to Worldwide Sharia Law. However, those attacks were getting much worse, as shown by Kobar Towers and the Cole. Then again, we have footage of Bin Laden speaking with his biggest supporters and telling them that due to his experience in construction, he had expected the 9/11 attacks to only collapse the top floors of the Twin Towers. The death toll from such an attack would be more than 500, but (IMO) less than 1,000. Not really pulling a punch, but a drop in the bucket when compared to the 250+ million Americans in the US. Bin Laden probably expected that death toll to bring a US response of several cruise missiles, and a Middle Eastern response of hundreds of new recruits.

    Instead, he killed 3,000 people, and the US response toppled the Afghan government. If there was ever a time to meet the Great Satan, this was it. Instead, Al Quaeda fled to the mountains to wait things out.

    Does Bin Laden truly want to impose Worldwide Sharia Law? Not today, he knows that he doesn’t have the resources for it today; but, he may have those resources in the future — right now he wants his old power back. Do his soldiers want Worldwide Sharia Law? Certainly. When his soldiers live among the people they will one day murder, do feel sympathy? As far as we can tell, no. If Bin Laden chose to stop all terrorist activity and rest on his laurels, would somebody else take up the torch? Yes. Is terrorism a threat to worldwide security, stability, and peace? As long as there are soldiers who want to impose Worldwide Sharia Law, yes. Will it really take military campaigns to overcome these terrorists? Probably, we haven’t found anything else to be successful, although several other tactics have been helpful.

  8. Philips says:

    Hm. Just try to imagine for a moment that all those stories of Bush and Bin Laden connections were true.

    Bush will came into history as a president who started the war and run the revenge for 9-11 attack. (!!!But still no-one ca prove definitely that it was Al-Quaeda which attacked, not CIA operation to pump up Bush ratings: 5 stolen air-crafts! bunch of people ready to suicide gathered in one place in one time!! going thru over-expensive trainings!!! – are you sure that Bin Laden / Al-Quaeda can afford that?)

    For another thing, Bush will make into world history as a creator of hysteria on scale of nation.

    Bush would be the only benefiter of this Bin Laden Ad, everyone knows that. It uses that prepared hysteria in your country. Why on the earth Bin Laden want Bush to be your president? Probably because he knows that Bush isn’t capable of catching him?

    It is that easy to manipulate you Americans…

  9. Tayssir John Gabbour says:

    1. You live in a scary world, Tayssir, if I understand your view of the role of media.

    Presumably, the existence of terrorists already makes it the scary world. All I want for the media is to be better than Comedy Central’s lauded fake news show.

    2. Where have you been for the last 10 months: the potential impact of an Al Qaeda “message” has been a regular part of the news.

    Please help me to understand, because it seems to me that points 1 and 2 contradict each other.

    I have not seen a poll that factored it in. It seemed to me that all polls and election discussion are useless unless they factor in terrorist action. If you can give me evidence that this factoring is actually widespread and I somehow missed it, then clearly I’d thank you and retract my point.

    I�m not sure what his true long-term goal is, but I do believe the US should keep it from ever happening.

    Escalation of violence. He sees us as propping up brutal antidemocratic regimes like the Saudis, and probably thinks he has a fighting chance against us if he mobilizes outrage and hate. This is the sort of thing which can drag on for centuries, as we often see with other terrorist organizations.

    Anyway, he’s one of those chatty evil guys. Hopefully he’s too chatty one day, like in those TV shows where the bad guy just can’t stop talking.

  10. Alexander Wehr says:

    I am convinced al Queda is under contract to the american government to provide handy “distraction” or crisis when necessary(when certain higher ups are feeling the pinch).

    This is not limited to ol’ shrub.

  11. Alan McCann says:


    1. I agree with your response. Perhaps I misunderstood your wording – I was responding to the idea that the media is responsible for how people think.Obviously they play a role but everyone has a choice as to how they perceive what they see in the world.
    2. Good point – you made me laugh 🙂 These comment sections make communications difficult sometimes. I don’t see how a poll would take the threat into account. I’m just saying that I believe people were well aware the AlQaeda/OBL could make an appearance before the election.

    I like your closing paragraph.

  12. Tayssir John Gabbour says:

    Excuse me, this is the correct “chatty” link, with his speeches. I’ve had better, but these sites frequently go down and are actually difficult to find. Usually it’s just commentary. So I don’t even know if these transcripts are reasonable, just as with the likely mistranslation of Khrushchev’s infamous “We will bury you.”

  13. Anonymous says:

    Hi, in Spain we are able see the votes until next day

  14. George says:

    Hi, in Spain we are able see the votes until next day

  15. Richard Yanco says:

    Am I the only one who sees the bin Laden tape as reverse psychology? An article in the 9/2004 Atlantic, written by one who looked through al Qaeda emails, said:

    [A]l-Qaeda understood that its attacks would not lead to a quick collapse of the great powers. Rather, its aim was to tempt the powers to strike back in a way that would create sympathy for the terrorists. Al-Qaeda has so far gained little from the ground war in Afghanistan; the conflict in Iraq, closer to the center of the Arab world, is potentially more fruitful. As Arab resentment against the United States spreads, al-Qaeda may look less like a tightly knit terror group and more like a mass movement. And as the group develops synergy in working with other groups branded by the United States as enemies (in Iraq, the Israeli-occupied territories, Kashmir, the Mindanao Peninsula, and Chechnya, to name a few places), one wonders if the United States is indeed playing the role written for it on the computer.

    If Bush is playing the fool (in this case, I mean, not in general), then wouldn’t bin Laden want him to stay in power and continue that role? Doesn’t bin Laden’s status virtually guarantee that what he apparently wants, our electorate wants to deny him?

  16. anon observer says:

    Here is the transcript of bin Laden speech.

    “So he took dictatorship and suppression of freedoms to his son and they named it the Patriot Act under the pretences of fighting terrorism.”

    “In addition, Bush sanctioned the installing of sons as state governors and did not forget to import expertise in election fraud from the regions presidents to Florida to be made use of in moments of difficulty.”

    “All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration.”

  17. Of course Bin Laden wants Bush to stay in power. Regardless of whether they like each other (I very seriously doubt it), they do need each other to spread fear and hatred. Both their platforms thrive on that.

  18. Nate says:

    Several thoughts:

    1. Newsweek has consistently polled very oddly, out of sync with other polls from what I have seen. This is the first poll I have heard of that showed bin Laden helping the Bush team. Zogby, Rasmussen, and the Washington Post poll, plus Fox News, showed if anything a decline for the President in the day following the release of the video.

    2. This makes sense. The last thing the President wanted was to have Osama pop up on America’s TVs right after Bush contradicted himself about saying he wasn’t concerned about him. This is the guy who was able to “run but not hide” after all, and yet there he is looking good and healthy and clearly not running or hiding. “Dead or Alive” the President promised almost three years ago. Three years later, he is most certainly neither dead or captured. Did you see how spooked the President looked on that tarmac when he gave his statement on Friday? Maybe he was believing his own propaganda and thought Osama was out of the picture.

    3. This cannot help Republicans other than those so Red-state-of-minded that anything that happens means “George Bush is a leader,” and frankly those people could see Bush sticking up a bank and think he’s a great guy. They were never going to change their votes no matter what happened. If you’ve read the transcript (part of it on CNN here:

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/10/29/bin.laden.transcript/ )
    you know how stupid it makes Bush look. If anything, it hurts the Republicans. The only way it might not is because the cable talking heads repeatedly said, “Wow, this sure could help Bush,” thereby influencing people to think that way. No one who reads the transcript will think it helps Bush.

    4. Osama deserves to die for his criminal acts. There is no negotiatiating with such people. Despite that, his words carry meaning. It would be well for the Bush team to stop lying to us that “he hates our freedom” (something I always knew to be a lie), and deal with the reality of the situation. Bin Laden is an idealogue who was willing to stick with principle even at the cost of thousands of lives. Such people are dangerous for that very reason. But the point is, he is not a madman lashly out blindly. He had a reason for what he did, and the smart thing is to start dealing with those reasons in the underlying situation rather than just say he’s a madman. Over the next few years, America will have a chance to rethink its approach to Middle East relations. If we get it right, we may minimize terrorist acts against us to only a few loose cannons who really are madmans. If we get it wrong, we’ll have those loose cannons to deal with AND all the idealogues with their followers. It’s up to us. But as for Osama himself, game over. He doesn’t get the right to be a part of any negotiations. He goes to jail or gets killed.

    5. Finally, yes, getting bin Laden is priority #1 in Jan. 2005. If only it had been priority #1 in Jan. 2003 we might have made some progress.

  19. Nate says:

    Oh, one other thought. Bush had the news about the bin Laden tape early on Friday, and hung onto the news for 12 hours, waiting until late in the day to talk about it (or let the Kerry team know). Why? Dumping news late on a Friday is the classic Bush team method of burying it. They know people are out on Friday and Saturday and Sunday, busy with other matters, especially this weekend with Halloween parties for the young’uns and candy and costumes for the moms. If this video is so helpful for Bush, why did they sit on it for so long until it would be marginalized? Methinks they know it only plays well among the brain-dead, but anyone who thinks will look askance at Bush. If this video was helpful to them, they would have been pushing it harder.

  20. Anon says:

    How nice to have civil discourse. For all those pro-Bush on this discussion, I really would like to know – why?

    Here is a person who launched a pre-emptive strike with insufficient evidence, that is immoral to say the least. 100,000 civilians might have died because he wanted to effect regime change?? The military is now mired in guerilla warfare – and let me ask you, would you lie down and be counted if someone was occupying this country?

    Incidentally – does everyone know that one country attacking another for regime change is illegal under international law? And that makes sense – otherwise, if one leader did not like the leadership style of another – does that now mean they can just take them out?

    The deficit is frightening and will create national and global economic instability – would you run a company this deep into debt? I don’t think so. And it’s going to boomerang back. I haven’t heard of anyone who has taken record surpluses and squandered them in such a reckless fashion. And I’m seeing the results of this on the ground. Did small-town America get income tax cuts? Yes. But then everyone’s PROPERTY Taxes went up by – get this – 25% – why? Because the Feds cut funding for the school programs and therefore the towns had to pick them up!

    If you want to to talk security, does it occur to you that 9/11 need not have happened if the Clinton counter-terrorism team had been listened to? Bush is a person who completely IGNORED the work of the President and the country pre-9/11 and then went about radical action post 9/11 that has put us and the rest of the world in grave danger and made everyone absolutely divided. How does he still have this kind of support?

    This is not a diatribe – I am at a complete and utter loss to understand it. Do tell…

  21. Tom Hosiawa says:

    ” I believe Kerry would use a different kind of pressure, which is why I won�t vote for him”

    I really want to understand this quote, why do you really think George Bush’s ways would be more effective?

  22. Alan McCann says:

    Anon: If you would become un-anon, then maybe more people would respond (ok, at least I would respond;-) One short answer, if someone was bringing freedom to our country after having lived under a dictatorship, you bet I would stand up and support them – like most Iraqis do now. Your equating of life in the US and pre-liberation Iraq is an impressive feat.

    Tom: It wasn’t my quote but the reasoning, IMHO, goes like this.

    1. The Bush doctrine goes against decades of US policy. Kerry wants to stay with the old way of doing things. The irony of a republican being “progressive” and a democrat being “reactionary” is interesting.
    2. Past US policy worked in situations where those involved share our world view.
    3. After 9/11, the world realized that the enemy did not share our world view and had a different set of motivations (e.g. shame, intolerance for those outside the Islamic nation, martyrdom)
    4. The only policy that has worked is strength through action and not words. This is similar to the fight in WWII against totalitarian ideologies. The only way to win against an ideology that does not tolerate the existence of competing ideologies is to prove its failure. Negotiating and sanctions allow the ideology to survive and hence succeed in a sense. In fact, it promotes them because they see weakness in what we see as moral “strength”.

    It all comes down to your understanding of your enemy. To quote Lao Tzu (badly) – if you do not know your enemy, you will not win the war.

  23. Dan McGuire says:

    The reason you cannot understand why anyone would support President Bush is because you hold out as true a number of questionable propositions. Your complaints are based on your interpretation of events, not objective facts. While these interpretations are perfectly defensible, you need to recognize that fact that your conclusions are judgments before you can understand why anyone would support President Bush.
    For example, you call the war in Iraq an immoral preemptive strike based on insufficient evidence. The subjective nature of your �immoral� label speaks for itself. The insufficient evidence point is probably right, but it is not clear whether the evidence was insufficient or inaccurate. I can see why a President might think the CIA director telling him it was a �slam dunk� case that Iraq possessed WMD was solid. As for preemption, that is the Bush doctrine for dealing with terrorism. Once can certainly disagree with that approach, but it is neither immoral nor implausible to take the opposite view. I think many people who disagree with the Iraq war have seized on the widely held belief (even among supporters of the war) that the post Saddam handling of the war has been poor to argue that the war itself was wrong. I think one can believe the war itself was the right thing to do while still criticizing the handling of the war since the toppling of the Iraq government. Witness Thomas Friedman, who I read as having thought the Iraq war was probably not a bad idea, but cannot stomach the recent handling of the war. The ineptitude in the means does not mean you cannot justify the ends, if you will.
    The increase in property taxes is driven more by an increase in property values than an increase in underlying tax rates. Many respected economist believe the tax cuts helped bring the country out of recession. Again, you can disagree with this, but it is only because you assume your conclusions are right that you cannot appreciate the opposite view.
    Being vehemently opposed to president Bush is a respectable position; thinking that such a view is based on irrefutable, objective facts is not. The half of the country that will support President Bush Tuesday is no more ridiculous than the half that will support Senator Kerry. A few hundred or thousand voters in Ohio and Wisconsin will let us know who carries the day.

  24. Max Lybbert says:

    Tom, I sometimes come off as a little flippant. Especially when I’m trying to be. When I wrote, “I believe Kerry would use a different kind of pressure, which is why I won�t vote for him,” I was actually trying to be succint.

    Alan hit my reasoning pretty squarely on the head: Kerry (if I understand him correctly) would go forward with the same policies we’ve used for 30 years. Those policies aren’t bad, per se, they were followed by Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and in some respects Bush II. However, the 30 year track record has shown that they don’t stamp out terrorism.

    Yes, freezing terrorist assets, suspending foreign aid, and bombing training camps have all made it harder to operate a terrorist organization. But, then again, Bin Laden used to regularly meet with heads of state. Arresting people who trained or supplied suicide bombers after they’ve attacked the Cole makes us feel better, but doesn’t repair the ship, nor does it really seem to have an effect on future bombing runs. They aren’t bad ideas, but they don’t seem to be enough.

    Has Bush’s strategy of ending countries that support terrorism stamped out terrorism? Not yet, but why not give it 30 years?

    And to Anon (“Incidentally – does everyone know that one country attacking another for regime change is illegal under international law?”), wars of agression are illegal under international law. However, even the UN charter (which begins, “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind”), has a whole chapter on UN-approved wars (Chapter VII). The actual cease fire conditions for the first Gulf War was one of the various Security Council resolutions that Iraq violated. Because Iraq continually violated the cease fire, the UN passed another resolution approving use of force by member nations without a need to ask for permission from the Security Council. The wording used didn’t limit the force to anything in particular.

    Clinton used this permission to expand the no-fly zone, and to attack military targets outside of the no-fly zone. The UN never complained about this use of force.

    After ten years, the Security Council passed Resolution 1441 which declared Iraq in “material breach” of the cease-fire, meaning the US was already pre-approved to use whatever force it thought necessary. Since everything short of an invasion had been tried, and since Iraq remained in material breach, it appeared that the only way to get lasting compliance was to invade and remove the regime.

    I can’t undestand why the invasion looked unfair to Kofi Anan. Saddam spent ten years declaring he was at war with the US, the UN believed him enough to authorize US force whenever Iraq breached the cease fire, and Iraq was in clear violation of the cease fire since it actively tried to kill US soldiers patrolling the no-fly zone.

  25. Nate says:

    Nothing on Earth can stop terrorism. Never has, never will. It’s a fallacy to believe otherwise, as thousands of years of human history has shown. It’s like saying you want to stamp out hate. Give me Kerry’s realistic view of the problem over Bush’s fantasy view any day of the week.

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