THE OSAMA FACTOR….A conservative trope that’s currently skyrocketing up the charts argues that Osama bin Laden wants you to vote for John Kerry. Dick Morris is the latest to play this game, saying ? without any particular evidence ? that it’s “obvious that Osama and his allies all want Bush out.” Matt Yglesias has the right response:

Obvious how? Was the attack on the U.S.S. Cole an effort to get Bush in office?

Morris’s peculiar historiography aside ? he can’t seem to make up his mind whether terrorists prefer appeasers or hardliners when they’re cleverly pulling electoral strings ? it’s not clear to me that Osama really cares one way or another who wins. Satan is Satan, after all.

On the other hand, if you were Osama in late 2001, what would you be hoping for?

  • You’d like to see the pressure taken off of Afghanistan, since that’s where you and most of your fighters are.

  • But U.S. troops are bound to be somewhere, and if not Afghanistan then where? Iraq would be nice, since none of your guys are there and you’ve never really seen eye to eye with Saddam Hussein anyway.

  • Hmmm, yes, Iraq. Instead of killing al-Qaeda terrorists, something that would retain public support for a long time regardless of cost, American troops will instead be dying at the hands of Baathist insurgents, something the American public will probably soon tire of since it’s pretty clear that Iraq poses no actual threat to the United States at all.

  • And what a great recruiting tool! Americans in the heart of the Muslim world! Stealing our oil! Building a Christian empire!

And then Osama would have awakened from his dream and realized that this would never happen. No American president would ever be so witless. Better get cracking on finding a new cave.

But it did happen, and since it turned out that Osama got exactly the American president of his dreams, surely he doesn’t want to take a chance of switching horses now? John Kerry might actually take terrorism seriously, after all.

My guess: Osama knows perfectly well that a terrorist attack in the United States would help George Bush’s reelection chances since Americans always rally around their president in times of crisis. He’s probably been planning one for the last couple of years.

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