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Monday, August 09, 2004

Ten Bolts from the Blue 

Via Zemblan patriot J.D.: Despite what experience teaches us, we persist in the wildly optimistic belief that fate is occasionally kind. So why not join us as we take a day off from worrying about what Karl Rove may have planned for October and relax with Tom Engelhardt's list of ten surprises that sprang up out of nowhere and bit (or may yet bite) an unsuspecting Bush administration squarely on its collective ass?
[W]e certainly have a nasty brew of remarkable incompetence and manipulative acts aimed at helping George Bush get reelected -- the MO of this administration for at least the last year or so. Can there be any question that the Bush men would consider almost any scenario that might advance their candidate's second-term fortunes? I think not. But their incompetence shouldn't be overlooked either; nor should we focus too exclusively on such scenarios ourselves. In that focus lies a lurking fatalism which has its own dangers. It leads to an overestimation of the Machiavellian abilities of the somewhat inept Busheviks, treating them as if they were a comic-book cohort of X-men, superhuman in their ability to grab fate decisively by the throat, reorganize reality to suit their needs, and manipulate the American public. In fact, if you think about it a moment, the Bush administration has proven far less competent since it tossed the Iraqi dice than either its top officials or most of its opponents ever conceived possible. And there's a surprise for you!

Whatever surprises this administration is planning for the coming months, it's hard to imagine an administration that's been as regularly caught off-guard by events as this one. Reality has been biting back with surprising ferocity. Among their manipulations that haven't worked out quite as planned you would have to include the front-loading of the economy (those tax rebates now long gone) and the passing of Iraqi "sovereignty" in a two-day early June "surprise" that managed to shove Iraq onto the inside pages of the papers and deep into the nightly news for a month -- but in both cases (see below), reality shoved back in surprising ways. Not only is there no guarantee that an administration electoral surprise will work as planned, but it's a reasonable guess that, of the surprises that lie ahead, the majority aren't likely to fall Bush's way. These could be a long three months for Karl Rove & Co.
Eberhardt's list includes "Mission Accomplished" at #1; "Missing Jobs" at #2 (which would, we suppose, subsume today's related surprise: a 3.4% increase, since last year, in the poverty rate); "Afghanistan" at #8; and, at #9, "Things to Come (Part I)," a category which would include indictments in the Plame case based on Tim Russert's canary act. Of special interest is #10, "Things to Come (Part II)," which suggests that the worst surprise, from Bush's point of view, might be no surprise at all:
What if Al-Qaeda doesn't strike in the U.S. before November 2? I know its rash of me to say, but this might prove the real October surprise: The administration doesn't find Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda doesn't carry out a domestic terror attack before or on election day. September 11th happened, as we now know in copious detail, because just about no one was looking while those al-Qaeda operatives and their "Saudi muscle" entered the U.S. fairly openly, trained for their flights, and bought their box-cutters. But with people even half-looking, half-efficiently, it's a far harder task to get that Saudi muscle in and organize an operation here. While I don't discount the dangers, I still consider such an attack unlikely soon.

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