October 30, 2004


The Osama Litmus Test (DAVID BROOKS, 10/30/04, NY Times)

The nuisance is back!

Remember when John Kerry told Matt Bai of The Times Magazine that he wanted to reduce the terrorists to a nuisance? Kerry vowed to mitigate the problem of terrorism until it became another regrettable and tolerable fact of life, like gambling, organized crime and prostitution.

That was the interview in which he said Sept. 11 "didn't change me much at all." He said it confirmed in him a sense of urgency, "of doing the things we thought we needed to be doing."

Well, the Osama bin Laden we saw last night was not a problem that needs to be mitigated. He was not the leader of a movement that can be reduced to a nuisance.

This seems quite wrong. He's most likely dead and his organization is nothing more than a nuisance. The video tape is pitiful testimony to the futility of their "cause." They couldn't disrupt elections in Afghanistan for cripessake, never mind here. With just a little persistence and a reasonable commitment of men and money the Reformation of the entire Middle East is moving so quickly that the thugs who, quite accidentally, got the ball rolling are no more than a Waziristan's Favorite Home Videos after-thought.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 30, 2004 8:54 AM

Having the guy delivering the speech stand up next to a life-sized poster of Michae; Jordan would be a way to find out if it's the real Osama instead of some stunt double, but if they want to send someone on TV who gets his talkiing points off the Democratic Underground message boards, that's fine with me. I'm only sorry he didn't throw in a line or two about his support of National Health Care and Bush's criminal attempt to drill for oil in ANWR.

Posted by: John at October 30, 2004 9:33 AM

Osama sure looked alive to me, and I thought he was dead, too. I doubt Al-Qaeda has ILM/Pixar-level SFX capabilities. Mentioning Kerry seems like proof this was done in the last year or so, because Kerry was a near-nonentity before that.

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 30, 2004 1:48 PM

I think it's him. But he sure looks weakened by the last 3 yrs while Bush seems to be fit as ever. He's strategically misjudged us so many times, this may be the latest.

And if he's dead and this was some lame knockoff, they're weaker still.

Posted by: JAB at October 30, 2004 2:05 PM

One of many reasons I wish we had grownups in charge is the ridiculous fixation on bin Laden.

It's sort of like thinking the purpose of the war with Germany was to get Rommel.

Laden didn't start anything and his end won't finish anything.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 30, 2004 3:36 PM

Oh heck, I agree with Harry!

Bin Laden is nothing more than a symbol. The left demands his death or capture because they want to end the war. It won't end it.

Besides, he's been dead since Tora Bora.

Posted by: NKR at October 30, 2004 4:18 PM

Harry's right.

It took the figurative pulping of Mein Kampf--and, later, Das Kapital--to put Nazism and Communism into the ash heap of history.

Putting this latest death cult down may require the same thing.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 30, 2004 4:24 PM


Pulping Das Kapital? Ever heard of China, N. Korea, Cuba, or the American university system? There are more Communists than Islamicists today.

Posted by: oj at October 30, 2004 4:51 PM

Think someone will ask distinguished BBC election commentator Mr. Moore on Tuesday what he thought of bin Laden's speech?

Haven't all major administration figures been saying for a couple of years now exactly what Harry does about bin Laden's overall importance, or lack thereof?

Posted by: brian at October 30, 2004 8:03 PM

Harry, I don't think the Bush administration is "fixated" on Bin Laden. That's one reason why we went into Iraq, because they know it was part of the problem.

That said, the administration does use him as a shorthand symbol for the overall problem, and the Dems focus on him because they want to pretend he's the only problem. With him out of the way they can cut military spending and spend it on socialized medicine.

Posted by: PapayaSF at October 30, 2004 8:15 PM

I think you're right, Papaya.

The administration has taken pains to discount the importance of capturing Laden, possibly because they haven't captured him; but also, I think, because they are taking a comprehensive view.

But if you go back to the days before the invasion of Afghanistan, I don't recall they were making that distinction.

Kerry is just hopeless on this, though.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 31, 2004 3:09 PM