Democrats Rooting for Bad News

Christopher Hitchens cuts to the heart of some recent comments by prominent Democrats in his piece, “Flirting With Disaster – The vile spectacle of Democrats rooting for bad news in Iraq and Afghanistan.” He begins with a quote much-commented upon in the blogosphere and elsewhere last week:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he appeared in the next month.” Teresa Heinz Kerry to the Phoenix Business Journal, referring to a possible capture of Osama bin Laden before Election Day.

Hitchens responds,

As well as being “quotable” (and I wish it had been more widely reported, and I hope that someone will ask the Kerry campaign or the nominee himself to disown it), this is also many other words ending in “-able.” Deplorable, detestable, unforgivable. …

The plain implication is that the Bush administration is stashing Bin Laden somewhere, or somehow keeping his arrest in reserve, for an “October surprise.” This innuendo would appear, on the face of it, to go a little further than “impugning the patriotism” of the president. It argues, after all, for something like collusion on his part with a man who has murdered thousands of Americans as well as hundreds of Muslim civilians in other countries.

I am not one of those who likes to tease Mrs. Kerry for her “loose cannon” style. This is only the second time I have ever mentioned her in print. But I happen to know that this is not an instance of loose lips. She has heard that very remark being made by senior Democrats, and—which is worse—she has not heard anyone in her circle respond to it by saying, “Don’t be so bloody stupid.” I first heard this “October surprise” theory mentioned seriously, by a prominent foreign-policy Democrat, at an open dinner table in Washington about six months ago. Since then, I’ve heard it said seriously or semiseriously, by responsible and liberal people who ought to know better, all over the place. It got even worse when the Democratic establishment decided on an arm’s-length or closer relationship with Michael Moore and his supposedly vote-getting piece of mendacity and paranoia, Fahrenheit 9/11. (The DNC’s boss, Terence McAuliffe, asked outside the Uptown cinema on Connecticut Avenue whether he honestly believed that the administration had invaded Afghanistan for the sake of an oil or perhaps gas pipeline, breezily responded, “I do now.”)

What will it take to convince these people that this is not a year, or a time, to be dicking around? Americans are patrolling a front line in Afghanistan, where it would be impossible with 10 times the troop strength to protect all potential voters on Oct. 9 from Taliban/al-Qaida murder and sabotage. We are invited to believe that these hard-pressed soldiers of ours take time off to keep Osama Bin Laden in a secret cave, ready to uncork him when they get a call from Karl Rove? For shame.

Hitchens produces other examples from senior officials in the Kerry campaign. Aside from the disreputatable nature of these statements, though, they reveal something quite striking: Kerry and his crew honestly seem not to understand that we’re at war. Everything is fair game for a political contest because, really, what does it matter? Since the public can’t be persuaded that the most important issues are really outsourcing and health care rather than these nuisance foreign policy issues, let’s treat those issues with the same demagoguery as we would Social Security. Instead of trying to scare little old ladies into thinking George Bush is going to take away their Medicare, let’s tell them that their grandkids will be drafted and that the Republicans are hiding Osama for an October Surprise.

The unfortunately necessary corollary of this—that bad news for the American cause in wartime would be good for Kerry—is that good news would be bad for him. Thus, in Mrs. Kerry’s brainless and witless offhand yet pregnant remark, we hear the sick thud of the other shoe dropping. How can the Democrats possibly have gotten themselves into a position where they even suspect that a victory for the Zarqawi or Bin Laden forces would in some way be welcome to them? Or that the capture or killing of Bin Laden would not be something to celebrate with a whole heart?

The beginning of the end of Howard Dean’s seemingly assured path to the nomination was his insistence that Saddam’s capture didn’t really make America any better off. One would have thought that Kerry would have learned that lesson.

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, Afghanistan War, Iraq War, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. LJD says:

    As the democratic poll numbers continue to shrink, they carry on like drunken madmen during their last day on Earth… (I guess they learned that from Dean as he started to slip- AAARRRRGHH!)

    If you repeat something enough times, no matter how fallacious or ridiculous, sooner or later, some people will begin to believe it. (Thanks to Michael Moore, the Fabricator in Cheif. I hope he can spend his millions in France after the ingnorance he has spread).

    I am absolutely amazed at the “facts” repeated by left-wingers that are absolutely false:

    We went to war in Iraq for WMD and Al-Quaeda (never mind the laundry list of violations stated at the UN and in congress).

    Bush lied, said the fight would be easy, and has no plan. (Hindsight politics always being 20/20, to his credit the President actually explained the difficulty, and has repeatedly stated his clear plan)

    I won’t even touch the CBS fabrication fiasco.

    There is a problem when people get their news by word-of-mouth, when the media is allowed to falsify or spin the “news”, or when elected officials are not held to account for their statements.

    This is all very bad for our country at a time of war. I agree that many just don’t get it yet. Except to Teddy Kennedy- Bush will be to blame for the Nuclear 9-11, right?

  2. Boyd says:

    One would have thought that Kerry would have learned that lesson.

    Why would you say that, James? I can’t think of a single lesson he or his staff have learned so far in this campaign.

  3. ken says:

    The compaint about Teresa seems to be based upon the false assumption that Bush would NOT pull an October surprise even if he could.

    It is a commonly held view, even among the republicans I talk to on a daily basis, that Bush is cabable of, and very likely to, attempt something like this to assure victory in November.

    But we shall see. If a big announcement regarding Osama’s arrest or death takes place before the election it will prove Teresa correct. If nothing happens, well then let’s just chalk it up to politics as usual.

  4. James Joyner says:

    If a big announcement regarding Osama’s arrest or death takes place before the election it will prove Teresa correct. .

    No. It wouldn’t.