Saturday, October 30, 2004

"I am Osama bin Laden, and I Approve this Message"

Tsk-tsk. All this uproar over another Osama bin Laden tape. Assuming, of course, that it is bin Laden and that he's still alive. CGI technology being what it is today, this tape could just as easily be some old footage of OBL with an impressionist dubbing in the contemporary-sounding dialogue. Besides, every time one of these tapes surfaces, whether audio or video, the "experts" always say it's "authentic," so who really knows?

But even if it is, and he is, how much does it really matter, within and without election context?

One thing we know about al Qaeda's MO is that if they can strike, they don't give their victims a heads-up in advance. I don't recall any such Lombardi-era-Green-Bay-Packers-power-sweep-like, Babe-Ruth-pointing-to-left-center-field-esque "We're gonna hit you and you can't stop us" press conferencing preceding the first WTC bombing, or the Khobar Towers attack, or the African embassy bombings, or the attack on the USS Cole, or, of course, 9/11. They all came out of the proverbial (and in the latter case, literal) clear, blue sky.

As to influencing the U.S. presidential election, you want further proof? How about the Spanish election last March? Was there a videotape warning the Spanish people not to re-elect Mr. Aznar? No; there was a Madrid subway train that went BOOM. Or what of the Australian election? Did OBL pop up like a whack-a-mole to instruct the Australian electorate to replace John Howard "or else"? No; al Qaeda bombed the Australian embassy in Indonesia.

Now, with four days to go until America's election, instead of carrying out actual attacks that would "make American blood run in the streets" and cause us to "forget all about 9/11," we get an al Qaeda infomercial that makes OBL look like a taller, gaunter, tranquilized version of Michael Moore.

I agree with Gerry Daly: "They would have hit us if they could." Instead, the combat fatiques, the AK-47, and the jihadi bravado are all gone, replaced by a tired resignation that goes through the motions of admonishing us, the American voters, with what fingers he still has left.

Assuming, of course, that he actually is alive.

But even if he is, what we're seeing is a defeated man, maybe or maybe not sitting atop a defeated organization that, thanks to the leadership and resolve of George W. Bush and our allies, is no longer a threat to the American homeland.

Possible suitcase nuke sleeper cells implanted in the late 1990s not withstanding.

My guess is the vast majority of us saw the story, watched/listened to the tape excerpts, shrugged, and went about our business.

Which, on Tuesday, will include re-electing the President of the United States.

UPDATE: "Obi-wan Kenobi," the KerrySpot's Republican political Jedi Master, opines that "this makes terrorism THE issue of the election, and Bush is now likely to win in something approaching a landslide."

He's got the usually cautious Jim Geraghty convinced.

Personally, I'll believe a "landslide" when I see it.

But a lame-ass video tape showing more than anything else how Dubya has humbled one of our principle enemies certainly doesn't hurt him.