11/27/2004

FEC Complaint: Bin Laden tape released to help Bush

For weeks before the election the Republicans were suggesting that a vote for Senator John Kerry meant a vote for al Qaeda. Bumper stickers, pundits and even House speaker Dennis Hastert have overtly suggested that Osama bin Laden's network would be able to be operate in more comfort if Kerry won the Presidency. [11/1, The New Zealand Herald]. One is left to wonder, like the NZ reporter writes:

Now, in the light of the bin Laden video, people are asking: why would the media savvy Saudi dissident issue a tape that could lead to the re-election of President Bush?

President Bush knew in advance that the video was in the offing. But presumably not even the talented spin doctors in the White House could engineer the timing of the tape's broadcast by the Arabic television channel Al-Jazeera. It [has been] claimed that far from inspiring the tape, the US ambassador to Qatar tried to prevent its broadcast after it was dropped off at the al Jazeera offices in Islamabad on Friday night, hours before it was broadcast to the world.

;
What is undeniable is that IT DID help Bush:
Bush takes a six-point lead after new bin Laden tape:
President Bush has opened a six-point lead over John Kerry in the first opinion poll to include sampling taken after the new Osama bin Laden videotape was broadcast on Friday night... If the trend is confirmed by other polls, Mr Bush may have his greatest enemy to thank for helping him secure another four years in the White House after the appearance of the video sparked a sharp final round of argument over which candidate can best defeat terrorism. [10/31, Telegraph]

So fellows, do you guys think we have a case to present to FEC ?

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The timing was perfect
October Surprise Bin Laden Appears Right On Cue
With two days to spare, the October Surprise arrived yesterday, [10/30 ; WaPo ]. It was the first time since December 2001 that bin Laden both appeared and spoke on a videotape [10/30, WaPo ] The timing is so obvious that Walter Cronkite [10/29, Larry King Live] wondered aloud:
now the question is basically right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing. The advantage to the Republican side is to get rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now, get rid of the whole problem of the al Qaqaa explosive dump. Right now, that, the last couple of days, has, I think, upset the Republican campaign

Bush's troops were prepared
Sure enough, Republicans go in attack mode
MARC RACICOT, BUSH CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN [ 10/30, CNN.com ; ] We don't take polls to figure out how it is that the president ought to address international or foreign affairs, or the war on terror. I think the people in this country, I think that's a metaphor for the entire Kerry campaign, take a poll to figure out how you respond to the Osama bin Laden tape. At the end of the day, this president is principled and steady and strong, and I believe the good people of Ohio will recognize that in the end. Bush has rarely spoken to reporters in his final campaign sprint, but he paused beside Air Force One in Toledo to address the tape [10/30, WaPo ]

And collect the benefits:
Bush takes a six-point lead after new bin Laden tape:
President Bush has opened a six-point lead over John Kerry in the first opinion poll to include sampling taken after the new Osama bin Laden videotape was broadcast on Friday night... If the trend is confirmed by other polls, Mr Bush may have his greatest enemy to thank for helping him secure another four years in the White House after the appearance of the video sparked a sharp final round of argument over which candidate can best defeat terrorism. [10/31, Telegraph]

An add the So Called Liberal Media...
Will the press allow the bin Laden tape to sway the election (and then express regrets that this was allowed to happen in the weeks ahead)?
On the morning after a new video from Osama bin Laden emerged, ABC's influential 'The Note,' the political/media online tip sheet, observed: 'In the absence of any data to grab onto, it is a near certainty that the vast majority of weekend TV chatterers will assume that the tape is good for the President and bad for Kerry.' ; One expects the worst from TV new pundits, but one hopes that newspaper reporters and commentators will not lose their heads in a similar manner. For, as The Note noted, the outcome of the election may be determined 'partly from how the candidates handle this and partly from how the press does.'

Apparently the notion that the arrival of the new tape is good for Bush is based on the belief that he is 'strong on terrorism' and the re-appearance of Osama plays into this. This has quickly become the conventional wisdom and, possibly, a self-fulfiling prophecy.

One would think, however, that before the media helps re-elect the president by emphasizing the very subjective 'strong on terrorism' analysis, they might pause to give equal, or even added, weight to the demonstrable fact that the tape reminds us that: 1) 9/11 happened on Bush's watch 2) Bush has not yet caught bin Laden, perhaps because he 3) switched his attention to Iraq where 4) we have contributed to the terrorist threat against us in numerous tragic ways, not to mention suffering more U.S. casualties (dead and injured) than we absorbed in 9/11, with eight more U.S. Marines added to the tally today.

Will the press counter the blatherings in the other media? Or allow the bin Laden tape to sway the election (and then express regrets that this was allowed to happen in the weeks ahead)?

The early returns are not good. Note the citing of unnamed insiders. Here is Mark Z. Barabak of the Los Angeles Times: "Most analysts thought it would aid Bush, at the least, by changing the subject from stolen Iraqi weapons, doctored campaign ads and other developments that had thrown the president on the defensive for the last few days...." Adam Nagourney of The New York Times weighed in today with a "news analysis" that repeatedly emphasized the "somewhat welcome news for President Bush." Nagourney couldn't help repeating himself, stating that the tape "reinforced what has been the defining rationale of Mr. Bush's re-election candidacy" and later affirming that the campaign had come full circle "to the moment that has defined Mr. Bush's presidency and shaped his re-election campaign." The Washington Post's Dana Milbank did little better. While he noted that the tape could cut both ways, Milbank added: "Weighing in Bush's favor is that Americans have typically rallied around the president when they have felt threatened, and bin Laden's tape is menacing. Also, the fact that bin Laden was making his presence known through a videotape rather than through a Madrid-style attack could be seen as evidence that Bush had done his job of protecting the public."

More predictably, there was David Brooks in his New York Times column: "One of the crucial issues of this election is, Which candidate fundamentally gets the evil represented by this man? Which of these two guys understands it deep in his gut - not just in his brain or in his policy statements, but who feels it so deep in his soul that it consumes him?" Guess who Brooks favors? [ 10/30, Reclaim the Media]

More Info
Bin Laden lectures U.S. in new video / THE CANDIDATES: Bush and Kerry tread carefully as campaign is jolted by bin Laden tape:
Osama bin Laden elbowed his way into the presidential campaign Friday with a new videotape that took credit for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America and warned President Bush and Sen. John Kerry not to threaten Muslim countries

Bin Laden Warns U.S. Voters (washingtonpost.com):
Bush supporters have generally said bin Laden would like Kerry elected, in the expectation of taking the heat off his network; Kerry supporters point to jihadist Web sites' recent statements that Bush's policies have so inflamed the Muslim world that he is their best recruiting draw. Each side disputes the other's interpretation.... it was the first time since December 2001 that bin Laden both appeared and spoke on a videotapeA videotape released in September 2003 showed him walking with senior al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri, but there was no audio, and officials believe the video could have been old. " Bush has rarely spoken to reporters in his final campaign sprint, but he paused beside Air Force One in Toledo to address the tape.

;The New Zealand Herald Rove behind bin Laden tape, whispers latest conspiracy theory:
for weeks now, the Republicans have been suggesting that a vote for Senator John Kerry means a vote for al Qaeda. Even bumper stickers have reinforced that message. As House speaker Dennis Hastert put it, before his remarks were drowned out by protests from the Democrats, Osama bin Laden's network would be able to be operate in more comfort if the Democratic candidate wins the vote. Mr Hastert uttered his opinion six weeks before the Al Qaeda leader lobbed his own grenade into the US election on Friday night.

10/29, Larry King Live
KING: Now, bin Laden, of course, could help Bush in that it reminds people of a terror issue in which he runs strong. It also could hurt Bush in that reminds people he's still alive. So this could be a double edged sword, right?

CRONKITE: Indeed. Indeed. And the thing that in bringing this threat to us, there is almost, in the fact that he dressed well, that he looked well, he was clean shaven, nearly clean shaven as those folks get. It seemed almost, to me, that he wanted to enter into negotiations, that he was really up -- he wants to move into a leadership role in international affairs instead of the role of a brigand. And he spoke calmly about this thing. The threat was there, no question about it. He's delivering a warning to us, no question about that. And certainly, I don't think there's any reason to feel that we can take him to our bosom just because this speech at all. He's perfectly capable of blowing us up.

;W O R L D T H R E A T S - Walter Cronkite: Karl Rove "Probably Set Up bin Laden" Video

October Surprise Bin Laden Appears Right On Cue

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