Will al Qaeda re-elect the President?
The Baehr Essentials
Howard Fineman reported that the Kerry campaign is leaning strongly towards John Edwards for his VP pick. Edwards was a favorite of the media during the primary season —— he is a fresh face, a smooth speaker (performer, really), and apparently polls well with Kerry. The Edwards boomlet raises some interesting themes. During the primary season, Edwards won only
Despite his Southern roots, Edwards is not a cinch to add any
The foreign policy part of the campaign has two components. On one, the war on terror, Bush is still viewed as a strong leader. On
But the President's campaign may receive a gift from al Qaeda, if fear of domestic terror attacks becomes a pressing national concern. Yesterday, The New York Times hinted that the announcement by government officials that al Qaeda may be planning attacks in the
But the summer represents a target—rich environment for al Qaeda both here and abroad. The Olympics should be easy for al Qaeda to hit. These Games, after all, will be played in
The two major political parties each chose disastrously for their convention. The Democrats will close down half of downtown Boston to hold their convention in the safest (politically, that is) of Democratic states, Being in Boston guarantees an outsize role and lots of attention for Teddy Kennedy, its growling, nasty senior Senator. If Kerry wants to play in
The Republicans did not do any better with their convention pick. By scheduling the convention late, and near the 9/11 anniversary, the President may have sought to tie his electoral fate to his response to those attacks. But the attitudes of New Yorkers towards the President have changed a great deal since the heady days of his standing ovation at Yankee Stadium before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series. And
Given the security precautions for the conventions, one would think that sleeper cell of al Qaeda would choose less—defended targets. And well they might. A suicide bombing attack on a shopping mall or other public establishment in cities across the country is probably not preventable. Al Qaeda has preferred symbolic targets in the past (WTC, the Pentagon), but killing scores of people with a chemical or biologic attack, or dirty bomb would strike fear in much of the country that now expects these ghastly things to only happen in New York and Washington. We are a big, open, free country, with unlimited opportunity for those with ambition and a strong work ethic. That is why people all over the world want to live here. But our openness is also our vulnerability. If there is another attack or attacks, the civil liberties absolutists will soon be very much a diminishing minority as to the wisdom of the Patriot Act.
If terror is the subject, Bush still benefits politically. And Bush is not managing the news on this: the threats are real. Ask the Greeks.
A final note. The polls have stabilized somewhat this week —— with the race fairly even —— Kerry generally ahead a point or two without Nader, and even with Bush with Nader included in the race. The CBS poll seems to be an outlier, showing Kerry with a much bigger lead. That poll may have been taken among CBS News and 60 Minutes staff. The state polls are less promising for the President this week. John Zogby has started a bi—weekly poll for the Wall Street Journal of 16 battleground states, and Kerry currently leads in 12 of them, including all the big ones, though some (e.g. Florida) very narrowly. Three weeks before the election in 2000, Zogby had Gore with a 13% lead in
Some pundits are now predicting a big win for Kerry, rather than the conventional wisdom of a close race to the end. This election will be determined by news events more than perhaps any other in recent memory. And al Qaeda may not get the same election result they sought in