Saturday, October 30, 2004

Osama Tries to Influence the 2004 Election

"Despite the fact that we have entered the fourth year from Sept. 11, Bush is still misguiding you by hiding the real reason from you...
God knows that it had not occurred to our mind to attack the towers, but after our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon, this came to my mind."

--Osama bin Laden
(translation provided by the Search for International Terrorist Entities Institute)

Gentle Reader, isn't it obvious that this new video by Bin Laden will influence the election? That it will affect the notorious "undecided voter" at this crucial moment, four days before the election? Please recall the circumstances of the last election in Spain.

Oh yes, the two candidates have been quick to anounce that the American people "will not be influenced by an enemy of our country" (Bush) and that we are "absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists." (Kerry)

But in such a close race, can anyone realistically believe that an event of this magnitude will have only a negligible impact on the national mood?

It is too early to say what this message from Osama will accomplish, but there can be no doubt that its effects will be far-reaching. Perhaps they will be more far-reaching than our available guages of popular opinion can reckon.

Let's step back for a moment and consider the threat that terrorists pose to democracy. Through their willing accomplices at Al-Jazeera and other media outlets, terrorists have been able extort whole governments to do their bidding (to withdraw troops from Iraq, for example).

A civillian population that is ambivalent about any given war will surely be influenced against it by weekly barrages of video taped beheadings. After all, shouldn't we mind our own business and let other people live the way they want in their own countries?

From what I can tell, this sentiment is fairly common among the leftist opponents of our current operation in Iraq. In the middle of a war that the United States has fully committed itself to, the political opposition has done its best to convince the population that the war has been a failure. According to them, the war was a mistake in its conception and an uninterrupted series of tactical blunders in its execution.

I was discussing this matter yesterday with a client of mine, who informed me of Walter Cronkite's verdict that the 1968 Tet Offensive meant "defeat" for the American effort in Vietnam.
According to Notra Trulock of Accuracy in Media, this broadcast is "widely credited as a turning point in American support for the war."

Trulock continues, "In a famous half-hour news special, he declared that in the aftermath of Tet 'it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate.' Lyndon Johnson was reported to be dismayed at the prospect of losing Cronkite's support for the war. And indeed, public support for the war dropped 25% following Cronkite's declaration and media coverage of the offensive in general." Read the entire article here.

Democracy in its essence is rule by the majority. Those who favor it do so on the assumption that the majority usually is in the possession of good judgment (however this is defined!). Bush and Kerry both have affirmed their faith in the good sense of the American people.

The question I wish to pose is this: How good can the people's sense be when their information comes from extremely biased sources? Add to this the fact that terrorists, politicians, and reporters (among others) are all engaged in cynically manipulating the media to influence us.

What is the value of democracy when the will of the people is subject to such chaos?

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