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Seriously

I think liberals trying to argue that this bin Laden tape won't help Bush are probably fooling themselves. Bush will be helped, it's pretty obvious that Bush will be helped, and OBL is certainly aware that this stunt will help Bush. This is because, of course, OBL likes Bush in office just fine. Not especially because of anything relating to Tora Bora, but because the Bush administration's policies have, at every turn, served bin Laden's agenda of increasingly unifying disaffected folks throughout the Islamic world around jihadist ideology while fragmenting the western powers. OBL is not an idiot. On the contrary, he's long ago emerged as the greatest propagandist and opinion-manipulator of the 21st century and he's trying to get what he wants.

October 29, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

The tape will help Bush, but only with the people who already support him. So why should we care?

Posted by: grytpype | Oct 29, 2004 6:50:34 PM

This will not help Bush. CNN reports the State Department had tried to pressure Qatar government to stop al Jazeera from airing the video. They did NOT want this aired before the election. Bush's terse, rapid-eye-blinking statement telegraphed discomfort with the turn the election has taken.
FBI widens Halliburton investigation.
Al QaQaa HMX debacle.
Bin Laden still taunting Bush.
Yeah, this is good news for Rove and Bush.

Posted by: epistemology | Oct 29, 2004 6:53:46 PM

This is supposed to help Bushco, it is all about FEAR and FEAR is all Bushco has to run on. OBL is trying to help the administration that is dividing his enemies and uninting his friends. It is transparent and if it works, damning!

Posted by: jay boilswater | Oct 29, 2004 6:58:44 PM

By default this helps Bush - he is still perceived (incorrectly) as the stronger choice to fight the "war on terror". This tape will raise some fears, and push people towards Bush.

Nevertheless, the Bush camp doesn't want bin Laden's name in the media - especially in the Kerry campaign uses it to emphasize Bush's failure to capture/kill him.

It should be interesting to see whose spin wins out.

Posted by: Alexis Lanz | Oct 29, 2004 7:00:16 PM

It's not about fear. Its about Americans being pi$$ed that bin Laden would do it and then getting behind the candidate they "trust" on the issue, George Bush.

Posted by: Publius Rex | Oct 29, 2004 7:03:37 PM

Matthew, please. There he sits, healthy, no gun, great set, calmly lecturing to Americans. All it says is "Yeah, this monster is alive and well, thanks to GWB." Kerry immediately issued a statement indicating he would find him and kill him. They just showed footage of that on the nightly news. So relax. Americans will believe Kerry, just you wait. Besides, anybody frightened by this new footage and reacting to it by rallying around Dubya was voting for him anyway.

Posted by: Greg | Oct 29, 2004 7:05:13 PM

HEADLINE: OSAMA BIN LADEN ENDORSES KERRY-EDWARDS!

Posted by: Matthew Vadum | Oct 29, 2004 7:05:58 PM

Probably a little early to give OBL any PR prizes, but he certainly has pushed the envelope in terms of provoking responses that echo and amplify onto his target audiences.

Of course the 20th century was full of PR stunts that are hardly remembered today, but one thing seems sure: if OBL is actually dead and this is a team of impersonaters, they are REALLY GOOD at what they're doing. Naturally they are helped by Bush's need to have an Evil One to be against. If OBL hadn't existed it would have been necessary to create him- O! That's right! They did!

Posted by: serial catowner | Oct 29, 2004 7:08:34 PM

What I want to know is, has Osama taken out the paperwork to be recognized as a 527 organization? If not, this tape is a violation of campaign finance laws, and we should find Osama and fine him for it. After all, what do we have laws for?

Posted by: Vaughn Hopkins | Oct 29, 2004 7:09:04 PM

and OBL is certainly aware that this stunt will help Bush.


Bwahahaha! Yeah, Osama's playing the old "reverse psychology" game! That's it!

It is intended to do exactly what Osama mentions in the tape: hurt Bush. It won't hurt Bush, but that's not because it's not intended to.

Osama already has one scalp in a Democratic election: Jose Maria Aznar's. He tried to get John Howard's scalp (by bombing the Austrialian Embassy in Jakarta). And he MOST CERTAINLY wants Bush's scalp.

Posted by: Al | Oct 29, 2004 7:15:25 PM

Americans don't like being told what to do by foreigners. They especially dislike it when the foreigner is a terrorist who has killed thousands of their countrymen.

Posted by: Matthew Vadum | Oct 29, 2004 7:18:00 PM

Bush has not made killing OBL a priority so now he is taunting the US on TV. If Bush has caught OBL that would be a big problem for kerry. This is not a big problem for Kerry.

Iraq is a sideshow, Bush didn't do his job.

Posted by: JoeO | Oct 29, 2004 7:20:05 PM

As far as I know, the most explicit statement any Islamist terror group has made as to which candidate they like is still that made by Abu Hafs Al-Masri after the Spanish bombing:

--"We are very keen that Bush does not lose the upcoming elections."
The statement said Abu Hafs al-Masri needs what it called Bush's "idiocy and religious fanaticism" because they would "wake up" the Islamic world.--

I think we can assume OBL's outlook is similar. He wants all-out war if he can get it, and Bush is more likely to give it to him.

It doesn't seem that hard to understand, but I bet most of the American Stimmvieh ("voting herd of cows") will never get it.

Posted by: jmb | Oct 29, 2004 7:26:34 PM

Sullivan is saying the same thing about this helping Bush. Maybe, but not inevitably. What if Kerry were to respond this way:

"OBL is the sworn enemy of this country, but let's be honest with ourselves--he's not stupid.

OBL KNOWS that many Americans will want to respond to this video by rallying behind the President. He knows this.

And why does he want Americans to rally behind our President?

Because he ALSO KNOWS that, unlike President Bush, I will make sure that OBL is killed and that his terrorist network is destroyed.

Three years after 9/11 and we're still getting videos from OBL? With John Kerry as President, the American people will not be seeing any more OBL videos."

Posted by: GAPublius | Oct 29, 2004 7:27:19 PM

So Bush, Limbaugh, et al are Bin Laden's "useful idiots."

Posted by: Kevin Carson | Oct 29, 2004 7:31:19 PM

To date, the Bush line on Bin Laden is, "doesn't matter that we didn't get him, he's holed up in a cave somewhere and can't do us any harm."

So, to the extent that this shows he's alive and well, possibly in communication with his organization and planning something else, it takes that particular line of defense off the table. Americans don't want to see OBL on their TV sets, and it's up to Kerry to make that point. If he can't do it loud, clear and fast, I agree, this works marginally for Bush.

But then, Arafat could die over the weekend, and we'd have that to talk about.

Posted by: Rob Salkowitz | Oct 29, 2004 7:34:28 PM

Publius: It would be the greatest feat in modern PR if Kerry were able to pull off what you describe. Bin Laden's message cannot be good news for the Kerry campaign. If Kerry had any so-called momentum in recent days, this stopped it dead.

Posted by: Matthew Vadum | Oct 29, 2004 7:36:26 PM

Eh - I think this is a wash for Kerry.

If anything, it's a reminder for the Dems that the guy responsible for the September 11th attacks slipped through bush's fingers & is still out there. This, coming on top of some real damning evidence that bush seriously fucked up Iraq.

Bin Laden needs bush & bush needs Bin Laden - this country needs Kerry to take them both out.

Posted by: Sal Paradise | Oct 29, 2004 7:41:02 PM

I can't believe they showed Osama playing croquet.

Posted by: poputonian | Oct 29, 2004 7:41:57 PM

You guys can BS all you want. Bush's terse statement, including a plea for Kerry to agree with him, tells you that the Bush team is worried about this.


Bush has been trying to change the subject from bin Laden for 2 years now. This is bad news for Bush.

Posted by: epistemology | Oct 29, 2004 7:42:51 PM

>I think liberals trying to argue that this bin Laden tape won't help Bush are probably fooling themselves.

Perhaps. This one is a wild-card and we'll see on Monday which way it goes, or if it changes anything. (Interesting that it is Yet Another Friday Afternoon Release.)

I suspect that both you and Sullivan are reacting to the shifts in tide amoungst the the spin-o-cracy, rather than to shifts on the ground.

Fundamentally, for Kerry, the way to deal with this is to run a commercial showing Bush saying 'Dead or Alive' followed by Bush saying he doesn't care, followed by Bush's assorted debate screw-ups (didn't he mix up Osama and Saddam? I know he said 'I know Osama attacked us' which might work well enough), followed by Osama talking. That would hurt Bush, particularly if it gets on the networks.

I haven't however, particularly seen the Osama tapes affecting opinion on the ground, except for the general consensus (on all sides, excepting core Three Monkey Republicans) that he should get dead.

ash
['We'll see.']

Posted by: ash | Oct 29, 2004 7:48:11 PM

Oooh....ooooh - One more thing.

If Kerry doesn't get out & say something about bush's comment that, "he's not all that worried about him" & that this should be held up as evidence that we SHOULD be worried about him, that he's NOT CORNERED - Kerry's a loon.

Posted by: Sal Paradise | Oct 29, 2004 7:51:17 PM

Can someone give me a clear, succinct explanation of how Osama's new video helps Bush or hurts Kerry? To me, it seems very ambiguous with respect to our upcoming election. What did he say that suggests that he prefers a particular outcome? And why wouldn't he be using reverse psychology?

Posted by: Donny | Oct 29, 2004 7:52:53 PM

I think it's too early to tell where the Bush people are with this.

What strikes me is how closely this parallels the classic dirty trick of circulating an over-the-top malicious attack on your own candidate, and riding the backlash to victory.

MV is right--countering with an effective PR strategy is difficult.

You almost have to wonder why all candidates don't spread outrageous rumors about themselves...

Posted by: GAPublius | Oct 29, 2004 7:53:18 PM

"Three years after 9/11 and we're still getting videos from OBL? With John Kerry as President, the American people will not be seeing any more OBL videos."

The only thing you are missing is "Read my lips."

Posted by: Publius Rex | Oct 29, 2004 7:55:26 PM

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