Friday, October 29, 2004

Osama on the Air 

So Osama bin Laden is back on the air, finally admitting to being behind 9/11 and addressing US voters. The full translated text isn't yet available, so I may have to update this post, but that's the gist of what's being reported right now.

From early reports it appears that he has a sort of nuanced message: as far as I can tell he's trying to scare US voters without appearing to endorse either candidate.

My guess is that Kerry's camp will use this as an opportunity to point out that the Bush administration has failed to catch the guy, while the Bush campaign will claim that Osama has endorsed Kerry. Either way, I don't see this videotape having a major effect on voters. While we've had an abundance of "October Surprise" candidates, this, by my guess, is another dud.

I, for one, am no more or less scared of Al Qaeda attacks than I was before I saw the tape. You?

UPDATE: Blogger reaction, for what it's worth, is starting to pour in. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main focus is on electoral politics and/or partisan finger-pointing. Far be it from me to criticize an obsession with the upcoming election; on the other hand, I wonder how much to read into the fact that no commenters seem to be frightened for their personal safety. I for one, as a new father and Lower Manhattan resident (and thus as someone with some pretty significant reasons to pay attention), am no more scared than I was before the tape was played. Anyway, on to the roundup:

Ezra from Pandagon sees the electoral effect of the OBL tape as being determined wholly by media conventional wisdom.

Daily Kos journal-keeper DHinMI thinks this is a non-event, electoral politics-wise, despite some panic among that site's commenters.

The Poor Man notes that his working hypothesis, that Bin Laden has been dead for months, appears to have been invalidated.

The Talent Show compares OBL to Cobra Commander (the second blogospheric reference to G.I. Joe that I've come across today).

Chris of Explananda wonders just how old the tape is.

INDC Journal, a conservative blog which has gone from surprisingly reasonable to surprisingly rabid in just a few short months, first sees the OBL announcement as drawn from the Kerry campaign playbook and then finds a way to link Kerry to Bin Laden via boogyman Michael Moore (look, man, we all think he's an ass: it unites America).

One of the many Volokh Conspirators hopes that Bin Laden's claim of responsibility for 9/11 will finally convince Palestinians (and, one supposes, Amiri Baraka) that it was Al Qaeda, and not the Mossad, who was to blame for the attacks.

Billmon breaks his silence to speculate that this is a very effective "October Surprise," that Bush will reap the benefits, and that OBL wants it that way. Jonathan "Head Heeb" Edelstein makes a similar comment here on the Bonassus. Follow his lead: let me know what you think.

UPDATE 2: Juan Cole has some excellent analysis, and points out just how bizarre it is that Bin Laden is adopting the quasi-Wilsonian rhetoric of the Bush administration.

I find myself slightly more convinced than I initially was that this will end up helping Bush. But my own less-than-overwhelmed reaction to the story makes me think that news junkies may be blowing the new tape's electoral effect out of proportion. I also note that for such an alleged media master, it's a bit odd that Bin Laden would choose Friday afternoon as the best time to maximize his message.

UPDATE 3: More commenters.

TalkLeft has another comment round-up and has started collecting conspiracy theories. [Note: I see no reason to believe the tape is faked.]

Joe Gandelman has a typically thorough analysis on his blog, and is assembling a link round-up. Go! Go!

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