From a fascinating and discouraging Newsweek piece (see note below) about how mindless fear trumps reason in the human brain:
In the final days of the race, most polls showed Kerry leading Bush by about 2 percentage points nationally and edging ahead in such key states as Ohio (50-46), Florida (49-45) and Iowa (48-47, according to the CNN/Gallup poll).
On the Friday before voters went to the polls, however, the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera broadcast excerpts from a videotape of Osama bin Laden speaking into the camera to Americans, proudly taking responsibility for September 11 and patronizingly explaining "the best way to avoid another Manhattan."
Clips of the diatribe were broadcast repeatedly on American stations over the weekend and described in newspapers. Four days later, the president won re-election. Ohio, Florida and Iowa put him over the top.
Giving Osama bin Laden an instrument like George W.Bush to play is like handing Jascha Heifetz a Stradivarius.
Bin Laden has got from Bush virtually everything he wanted: U.S. troops are out of Saudi Arabia, his enemy Saddam is dead, the Al Qaeda franchise has gone international, his hideout in Pakistan is safer than ever, the Taliban is resurgent, the Great Satan is globally hated and isolated, and Bush has done, praise be to Allah, effectively nothing to end the conflict between Israel and her Arab neighbors. Sweet!
The only tiny cloud on the horizon is the possibility of a Democratic president in 2009. Whichever warhog winds up with the GOP nomination, can anyone doubt that we’ll be hearing from Bin Laden again, in late October or early November of 2008?
(Note I: Maddeningly enough, the URL above takes you to Newsweek’s index page, with no visible link to the story. To access it, you have to do a site search for “Roots of Fear.”)
(Note II: Modulator adds this valid point:)
The way things have played out Bush has gotten from Osama virtually everything that he wanted: a huge popularity hit in his first term, a mission accomplished photo op, a 2nd term in office, billions in oil profit windfalls for his cronies around the world, the war on terror, the shredding of the bill of rights and so on ad infinitum.
It is not at all clear who is pulling the strings.
Perhaps they are each other’s sock puppet and, if so, perhaps they are partners.