Was Osama really wearing a “Re-elect Bush” button?

Osama just helped Bush. Did he mean to? After all, isn’t Bush the #1 recruiter for al-Qaeda>

The Osama tape clearly helped the Bush re-election campaign, if only by distracting attention from the missing explosives. But it’s an article of faith on the right that Osama was trying to help Kerry. Is he really that clumsy and ignorant of U.S. conditions? Or was the likely effect of releasing that tape also its intended effect?

That would have made sense, from ObL’s viewpoint. A ferociously smart friend who studies this stuff for a living at one of the Pentagon’s tame think tanks sums it up this way:

By mishandling Iraq, referring to the anti-terror fight as a “crusade,” and failing to make serious efforts to achieve Mid-East peace, Bush has been Al Qaeda’s #1 recruiter. Bush has squandered the post-9/11 sympathy of the whole world, and alienated allies whose help in squelching terrorist attacks is essential. Bin Laden has a reason to keep John Kerry from becoming president; Kerry would lead a smarter, more focused, and more effective war against Al Qaeda and Bin Laden.

As Machiavelli warns, when a skilled adversary makes an apparent blunder, suspect a strategem.

Of course, it would be unfair to Bush to reason from the premise that Osama would like to see him re-elected to the conclusion that his re-election would be bad for the country. After all, Osama could be wrong.

But then that same reasoning applies to Kerry, doesn’t it?

The desperate attempts by BushCo and its journalistic lapdogs to make Osama the arbiter of our Presidential election deserve to be rejected with contempt.

Update, with a hat tip to Progressive Blog Digest

Matt Yglesias asks a good question: Can an Administration that openly relies on the terrorist threat to maintain its power really be whole-hearted about fighting it?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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