Terrorism as a Tool
Tuesday, Apr 22, 2003
This NYT story scares the shit out of me.

On the surface, it's only mildly disturbing: The Re-elect Bush campaign has worked it so the GOP nominations are held in New York, starting on September 2nd, 2004 (the latest nomination in GOP history). They freely admit that they hope to use the memorial services occurring in NY a few days later to counterpoint Bush's platform of anti-terrorism and national security. From the article:

The back-to-back events would complete the framework for a general election campaign that is being built around national security and Mr. Bush's role in combatting terrorism, Republicans said. Not incidentally, they said they hoped it would deprive the Democratic nominee of critical news coverage during the opening weeks of the general election campaign.

So the original tactic of using 9/11 as a bridge between the parties has failed now that it's time to run for re-election, and that bridge might be used to let Republican voters walk the chasm to the Democratic camp for different ideas on foreign policy and civil rights.

Sure, that's scary, but I wouldn't expect anything less. What really worries me is this excerpt, which seems right on the ball:

The strategy of starting so late and building the campaign around the events in New York is not without risks. Mr. Bush's advisers said they were wary of being portrayed as exploiting the trauma of Sept. 11, a perception that might be particularly difficult to rebut as Mr. Bush shuttles between political events at Madison Square Garden and memorial services at ground zero.

In addition, Mr. Bush's advisers said they remained worried by the economy's persistent weakness, an issue that could trump national security if the threat from terrorism appeared to recede.

So Bush aides are worried that their re-election campaign could fail if the economy gets worse or if the war on terrorism is successful.

Suddenly FDR's quote, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself" blends worryingly with Alan Sorkin's quote from The American President, "Bob Rumsen is not the least bit interested in solving [the problems of this country]. He is interested in two things, and two things only: Making you afraid of it, and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections."

It troubles me that the Bush administration is making plans 18 months in advance for its own survival that are contingent upon it not achieving the goals it has stated are its primary objective for the remainder of the administration.

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