You Can’t Script October

Via the AP:

Al-Qaida supporters suggested in a Web site message this week they would welcome a pre-election terror attack on the U.S. as a way to usher in a McCain presidency.

The message, posted Monday on the password-protected al-Hesbah Web site, said if al-Qaida wants to exhaust the United States militarily and economically, “impetuous” Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is the better choice because he is more likely to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This requires presence of an impetuous American leader such as McCain, who pledged to continue the war till the last American soldier,” the message said. “Then, al-Qaida will have to support McCain in the coming elections so that he continues the failing march of his predecessor, Bush.”

Certainly a terrorist strike would be calamitous on a whole number of levels, and it would certainly prove damaging for Barack Obama’s political prospects. It is important to note however that it should not be the case when you account for the fact that John McCain’s foreign policy equates perfectly with al-Qaeda’s strategy of slowly bleeding the United States through protracted, costly, and counterproductive military engagements overseas.

All that said, I doubt an “October Surprise” of the 2004 vintage — a video — would really have a tremendous impact on the election. Unlike 2004, Obama’s lead is currently very large, and unlike 2004, the consensus on Iraq is not simply that it was mismanaged, but that it was a terrible idea for the same reasons al-Qeada wants a continued, full-scale U.S. presence in the region. It’s hard to say what impact an actual attack might have; John McCain’s response to the financial crisis has been pretty roundly panned, but its unclear how voters might interpret what would surely be unbridled and nebulous bellicosity.

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