Just Above Sunset
July 25, 2004 - The Terrorists Force Our Government to Call Off the November Elections













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Setting the Stage and Readers' Comments

 

1. Setting the Stage

 

See the July 18 issue of Just Above Sunset -

Let us not be paranoid ...

Premise?  This from CNN -

 

U.S. officials have discussed the idea of postponing Election Day in the event of a terrorist attack on or about that day, a Homeland Security Department spokesman said Sunday.

… The department wants to know about the possibility of granting emergency power to the newly created U.S. Election Assistance Commission, authority that [DoJ spokesman Brian] Roehrkasse said was requested by DeForest B. Soaries Jr., the commission's chairman.

Soaries, who was appointed by President Bush, is a former New Jersey secretary of state and senior pastor of the 7,000-member First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey.

 

Comment last week?

 

Such an attack might make some folks, a few, maybe many, think that Bush and his foolish war brought this down on us all. They might blame him. And get really angry. And not vote for him.

This now makes sense. There’s a big attack in early November. This could be the final straw that turns the solidly Bush folks against him. Canceling the election then makes perfect sense.

But martial law would be easier. And no one would have to die.

The idea is this – just after Labor Day the administration declares marshal law and just cancels the elections indefinitely, and heck, Bush can declare himself president for life, supported by the army. His wife, Laura, can even change her name to Eva if she wants. And al-Qaeda thus has no reason to attack. We can go on as usual. The stock market soars. Osama bin Laden gets all grumpy.

This could work.

 

And this from last week - Paranoia Take Two... -

 

The Madrid Scenario

But Tom Ridge is … suggesting that IF there is an attack BEFORE the scheduled election, THEN perhaps we should postpone voting to avoid people making hasty decisions about who should lead the country for another fours years. Well, he’s not exactly saying that. That is certainly implied in what he’s saying, but not explicit. “Disruptions to the process” is his tune here. He’s implying that voting in such a circumstance could not really be fair – as some precincts and polling places would be, well, wiped out. And everyone else would be all upset – at least far more upset than they are now. I think his idea is that it would just make sense not to hold an election when events are so dire. But some people see events now as dire.

This second argument is far weaker. In this Madrid Scenario the authority of the president to suspend laws – to suspend certain constitution rights – seems less clear than the first case, stopping the elections to save lives. In the Madrid Scenario many people are already dead. Efforts to assure public safety, in this case, have already failed. So why not hold the election and do the best you can? You might have to step over a few smoldering bodies to get to the voting booth, but in that case you probably would really WANT to vote?

In this Madrid Scenario I suspect that is what really worries the Bush Administration. After all, these guys keep saying - Hey, really, we made things safer for you all, we really did – trust us, we really did!

No.

 

But then the Democratic Party has its convention starting in Boston on the 26th, and that is a target.

 

And the Republicans meet some weeks latter in Manhattan.

 

That is also a target.

We live in dangerous times – see More to be said – Kafka and Soft Power in this issue for a discussion of this item... 

Fortress America
George Bush's re-election hopes may well hang on al-Qaida's ruthless ingenuity
Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian (UK), Thursday July 22, 2004

In short, Ash contends that Bush's election chances may depend on the ruthless ingenuity of al-Qaida, while Kerry's election chances may depend on the ability of Bush's department of homeland security to combat it.

It’s not a pretty picture.  Dangerous times.

 

2. Readers' Comments

From Bob Patterson - The World’s Laziest Journalist -

 

Here is some "hard core" commentary.

Today, Republicans and Democrats both are saying "We're safe." Then they go on to say another big one is on the way.

If America takes another big hit will it help or hurt Bush?

If he says we are safe and nothing happens, Kerry can't claim, "I told you we were safe!"

George W. can.

If he says we are safe and we get hit before the elections, it's another WMD "whoops!" moment. That might get Kerry a few extra votes.

Will such an attack help or hurt Bush? He says we are safe, so Osama could do George W. a big favor by postponing the attack until after November 2nd. November 11th would be a very mean choice, wouldn't it?

However, if Osama wants to be very, very nasty and rub George W.'s nose in it and help him at the same time, he could do one thing.

What if the Democratic Convention takes a WTC style hit? Could the surviving (mostly low level) Democrats field an alternative slate of nation wide candidates by November 2nd? (Can Democrats bicker among themselves?)

If we make it through next week, then I say Osama will kick back until after the elections.

Will there be an October surprise and a well-televised arrest of Osama? Is Osama really doing the camp-out in the mountains routine? Or did he slip into Iran without getting his passport stamped?

I think George W. is "spot on" saying "We're safe" until November 2nd.

I could be wrong. What odds are those British bookies (who let folks bet on anything) giving on this?

Agree or disagree?

 

Well, I think I get it where Bob is going with this. The bad guys want four more years of GWB and overt holy war without diplomacy - and thus any pre-election terrorist attack would undermine the GWB contention that what he has done, specifically in Iraq, has made us all lots safer. Such an attack would make him look like a fool - or more of one. Thus, oddly enough, we actually ARE safer - and GWB wins. Everybody - the bad guys AND the good guys - is happy. And NYC goes boom in early December, after the election - and then we're all stuck with buyer's remorse?

And any big pre-election terrorist attack would only marginally help Kerry because although some (a very few) would say GWB's war made this new attack happen - he stirred up an awful mess, needlessly (and incompetently) - most folks would say GWB was RIGHT and we need to kill all the swarthy Islamic monsters? Kerry wouldn't be forceful enough. And he speaks French. We'd rally round GWB - who turned out to be wise after all?

So then, GWB can't lose - either way. He's got it covered. Not to worry.

Is that it?

So then, GWB can't lose - either way. He's got it covered. Not to worry.

Is that it?

 

Bob Patterson - The World’s Laziest Journalist - answers – “Ahhhhh, grasshopper, at last, you see it clearly.”

And he adds –

 

I asked my contact in Britain about the Brit bookies and the odds for the presidential election. He indicates it's even. Same odds for both guys.

Here is (with links) his report:

Hi Bob –

Have just done a basic search for UK bookmakers and the US Presidential election.

William Hill, the top UK bookmaker, is going with the American trend, by the looks of things, offering 5/6 for both Kerry and Bush.

Actually, I think most bookmakers are offering similarly similar odds, if the following comparison is anything to go by:


Should be interesting, come what may.

 

Indeed so.

But for some it is more than a matter of idle interest.

Consider the case of someone often writing in these pages, Rick, the News Guy from Atlanta -

 

Before my wife (note below) flew off to Boston earlier this week, she and I casually discussed which convention city Osama would want to hit most -- Boston, in order to knock off what he'd probably see as the "goody-goody" Americans, leaving this a war between civilizations as it ought to be fought, between "true" Islam and the "true" American jerks; or New York, just to show the rest of the Islamic world that "true" American jerks can be whacked with impunity?

But then, after the realization hit home that she would be in both these cities for either or both of these attacks, we just stopped talking about it.

So it basically comes down to what she has told the leaders of both parties over the years when they've tried to consult her and her counterparts at the other networks on how to make these events more "TV friendly": "Hey, don't ask us, just do whatever you think you need to do! After all, even if you hold the goddamned thing underwater, we'll be there to cover it!"
(Note) - She is the CNN VP in charge of setting up its coverage operation for the political year, including the primaries, debates, conventions, election night, and even the inauguration in early 2005.

 

Whatever they pay Rick’s wife, it’s not enough. Note to self – stop making fun of news people (except for those who work at Fox and the NY Post for Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch).

Well, perhaps nothing will happen at the party conventions – at least no terrorist attacks. That would be just like al-Qaeda, getting us all worried and keeping us off balance, and laughing up their sleeves at our paranoia when nothing really happens. They call us fools, then, of course.

But then again, maybe something spectacular will happen at one of the conventions, and Rick’s wife, instead of covering an inauguration in early 2005, will be covering a coronation, with whatever staff she has left.

And all we can do for now is be frightened, very frightened? I guess.

That does feel like we’re winning.


___________

Note –

Frank Rich this weekend has something to say about this all.

Pop culture takes on the fear game
Frank Rich
International Herald Tribune, Friday, July 23, 2004
New York Times, Sunday, July 25, 2004

 

You can't blame the broadcast networks for cutting their convention coverage to a fig-leaf minimum of just three hours of prime time spread over four nights. That's what both parties deserve for having steadily sanded down their quadrennial celebrations into infomercials with all the spark and spontaneity of the televised Yule Log. But though few want to say so aloud, there is one potential last-minute ingredient that would instantly bring back gavel-to-gavel coverage on the Big Three: a terrorist attack. That fearful possibility is both conventions' sole claim to suspense.

It is also the subtext of this entire presidential campaign. A late-June USA Today/CNN poll shows that 55 percent of Americans feel less safe because of the war in Iraq - a figure that has spiked 22 points in merely six months. Fear rules. Fear rocks. Fear of terrorism is George W. Bush's only second-term platform to date (unless you count fear of same-sex marriage). Let John Kerry roll out John Edwards as his running mate, and Tom Ridge rushes to grab back the television spotlight by predicting that Al Qaeda will "disrupt our democratic process." Never mind that he had no "precise knowledge" of such an attack or any plans to raise his color-coded threat level; his real mission, to wield fear as a weapon of mass distraction, had been accomplished. Odds are that the next John Ashcroft doomsday press conference will be timed to coincide with the run-up to Kerry's acceptance speech on Thursday night.

In the fear game, the Democrats are the visiting team, playing at a serious disadvantage. Out of power, they can't suit up officials at will to go on camera to scare us. Kerry is reduced instead to incessantly repeating the word "strength" and promising to put "a national coordinator for nuclear terrorism" in the cabinet. That will hardly cut it against these ingenious opponents. Every time a Bush administration official tells us the apocalypse is coming, the president himself brags that he has made America "safer." The message is in the bad news-good news contradiction: The less safe Americans feel, the more likely they'll play it safe on Election Day by sticking with the happy face they know.

Yet the Democrats still can't be counted out. They do have one card to play that the Republicans do not: pop culture. With a vengeance that recalls the Clinton-hating echo chamber when it was fantasizing about the "murder" of Vincent Foster, big guns in the culture industry are rousing themselves into a war-room frenzy of anti-Bush hysteria that goes well beyond fielding an inept talk-radio network and producing documentaries for the base at MoveOn.org. Their method for countering the Bush-Cheney monopolization of fear is to turn the administration into an object of fear in its own right.

 

Then he goes on to discuss the new version of “The Manchurian Candidate” as a subversive movie.

But his points are the same.  Fear rules.































 
 
 
 

Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
 
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This issue updated and published on...

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