Tuesday, September 14, 2004
It's a great idea, if you can ascertain beforehand that the special guest villain won't be waiting in the wings to make an unscheduled live appearance. From Wayne Barrett in the Village Voice:
The ad starts with Bush and his September 14, 2001, bullhorn. This time, though, it's a Kerry commercial that reminds swing-state Americans of Bush's blood vow—precisely three years ago—that "the people who knocked down these buildings" would "hear all of us soon." The cowboy soundbites that we would "smoke 'em out" track across the screen with any network's footage of the "wanted dead or alive" culprits: Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Mullah Omar.Elsewhere in the article, Barrett cherry-picks a string of devastating quotes from the recommendations set out in the 9/11 Commission Report, any one of which could be superimposed over a freeze-frame of the President reading My Pet Goat to brutal effect. Shadowy 527's, do your stuff!
Then the camera moves on to anchors reporting that bin Laden was cornered at Tora Bora, picked up on cell-phone intercepts commanding the surrounded 2,000 Al Qaeda troops, but that U.S. commanders were allowing mercenary Pashtuns to lead the fighting and Pakistanis to seal the backside border. Next, news headlines blare that Special Forces and key CIA operatives were prematurely pulled out of Afghanistan to prepare for the war on Iraq. The last visual is of Bush momentarily forced at a March 2002 press conference to discuss bin Laden: "I just don't spend that much time on him, to be honest with ya" . . . .
It makes all the sense in the world that the Bush convention—with a hundred references in major speeches to terror and 69 to Iraq or Hussein—mentioned Osama just once, and then only to blame him on Bill Clinton. What makes no sense is that bin Laden was never mentioned in Kerry's Boston show. With cable and the networks also blocking on Osama, he may take a back seat to Ho Chi Minh in the 2004 presidential election. What also makes no sense is that bin Laden's never been featured in a Kerry commercial and, if he is mentioned at all in Kerry speeches, he is an afterthought, with Iraq or the economy dominant. Does anyone doubt that if Al Gore was in the White House and had the same record on bin Laden, he would be the drumbeat of the perpetually riveted, on-message, Republican campaign?
Kerry has begun using Osama in the laundry list of his complaints about the Iraq war. He's got it backwards. Osama's escape cannot be reduced to just one more consequence of the Iraq miscalculation, a postscript to a war critique. Instead, one of the reasons the real terrorists still threaten us—the number one issue to Americans—is because Bush got diverted into Iraq. That's where the emphasis belongs.