Bart Whiteman: Osama, My Pajama

Saturday, October 30, 2004 - by Bart Whiteman
Bart Whiteman
Bart Whiteman

Some people are suggesting, and I am not sure what corner of their diminished brain capacity they are getting this from, that if John Kerry is elected, Osama bin Laden will be eating dinner at the White House. Well, fine and good. Then we can catch him (finally) because we will know where he is.

The same people are loudly suggesting that Al Qaeda is rooting for a Kerry victory and that voting for Bush is the only way to deny these guys the power to influence our presidential election. For months now, these same people have been warning that Al Qaeda will try to unleash some horrible terrorist act just before the election in order to sway our vote. Well, we just got hit with another videotape. Ouch.

Osama bin Laden made his presence known via Al-Jazeera, and here we were taking bets in some parlors as to whether or not he was still alive. Apparently, we missed him.

The fact that Al Qaeda would be rooting for Kerry is ridiculous. Bush is their man. Bush has been the best thing to happen to them in a long time. They are taking Bush to the bank. With Bush, they know what they have. With Bush, the next four years are entirely predictable. More of the same. And the same means more recruits for Al Qaeda every day. The same means continued sinking of American esteem internationally. We are probably at the lowest level of international support and reputation than we have been at since we our history began. And this is no mean feat.

With Kerry, they don’t know what they will have. Things will be unpredictable. And that is what is lacking in our current military deployment. We sent a large force into Iraq on a three-week quickie strike, and then we have been sitting in a holding position for the last year and a half. Do that to an army and you are asking for trouble.

What I love is that that Tommy Franks, the guy who led our troops in, and Paul Bremer, the guy who directed them during the first year of sitting are back home now doing talk shows, making book deals, giving speeches for fees, and getting endowed university chairs. Meanwhile, the abandoned troops continue to sit and get picked off one by one. I wouldn’t be surprised in Franks and Bremer are doing Nike ads soon.

What stretch of the imagination made Bush a military genius. The guy sweats press conferences and debates. Fighting a tough enemy, you would think, would be a little harder. The difference is that with a press conferences and debates, you actually have to stand in front of a group of people who are not already rooting for you, you have to think on your feet, and you can’t really resort to rah-rah sound bites designed only to appeal to a very limited constituency. Despite all his money, all the power of the presidency, all his military success (?), his control of Congress and in some cases the Supreme Court, all the emotional appeal of mom and apple pie, and his boyish good looks, Bush has only convinced about half of the American public and a very small percentage of the world population that what he has done has any merit at all.

Yeah, Al Qaeda fears Bush just the way Brer Rabbit feared the briar patch. “Oh, please, oh, please don’t vote for Bush.” We give them Bush, and they’ll be singing songs of six pence. We give them, Kerry and they will have to re-group and wait and see what’s coming.

Bin Laden, in his taped message, made it clear that the gas that keeps his fire going is the Israel-Palestine situation, which we have been totally ignoring for the past three years since 9/11, just as we were ignoring it for the year before 9/11. This is a much tougher situation than Iraq that no one has gotten a real handle on for over fifty years. I sort of doubt we could tolerate a similar stalemate in Iraq for the next fifty years. Our talents, resources, and energy have been diverted to the easier turf of deposing a doddering idiot dictator. All the effort to paint him as the bogeyman of the millennium, the driving wheel of international terror is silly. He looked like it, but the real bad guys are invisible. The real bad guys seem to strike at will and with impunity. Even if we get one of them, there are instantly three more.

We insist on calling them “evil,” as if they will go away if we just cross our fingers. This hasn’t worked. We need a new formula. And we need it soon.

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