Remember in the Fall of 2004, four days before the presidential election, Osama Bin Laden (who had been quiet for almost a year) issued a videotape. During his screed, he attacked Bush, and peppered his talk with references to Fahrenheit 9/11, Bush's stupidity, ties to big business etc. It was almost as if he'd been reading liberal websites from his hole in Pakistan. I remember thinking at the time that this seemed designed to help Bush, as Bin Laden anticipated the country would rally around him, especially since he, Bin Laden, was using some Democratic talking points. I feared the worst (and the worst happened....). Now we find out in Ron Suskind's new book, The One Percent Doctrine, that the Bin Laden unit inside the CIA thought exactly the same thing. You see, they knew that Bin Laden only spoke for strategic reasons, and that this time, he was trying to help Bush.
And why not? Bush had completely screwed up by letting him escape from Tora Bora. (I'm convinced that a president Gore would not have made such a blunder, chiefly because he would not have appointed an incompetent like Rumsfeld as his secretary of defense). And of course, Bush's actions in Iraq were turning out to be Al Qaeda's biggest recruiting aid. So why would Bin Laden not have backed Bush?
Of course, we could always get into a Princess Bride iocane powder scenario, whereby Bin Laden knew that his attacks on Bush looked suspiciously partisan, so that clearly be was backing Kerry. But he also knew that....oh, forget it, this gets too complicated.
Of course, Kerry has only himself to blame for ceding this issue to Bush. Only in the debates did he raise Tora Bora to great effect, but then it was too little, too late. He also should have done an ad about that famous press conference in which Bush claims he didn't really care about Bin Laden; for, if the tables had be turned, Kerry would have been crucified for saying something similar.