With his typical flair for drama, Osama Bin Laden inserted himself directly into the presidential election yesterday, and both parties believed it would boost President Bush's reelection hopes. Bin Laden popping up like a malignant jack-in-the-box four days before the balloting may bolster John Kerry's argument that Bush should have finished wiping out Al Qaeda before turning his attention to Iraq.But it also refocused the nation on terrorism, which polls show helps Bush. And it reminds voters of their horror on Sept. 11 and Bush's well-received response, as well as obliterating the recent flood of bad news for Bush.
"We want people to think 'terrorism' for the last four days," said a Bush-Cheney campaign official. "And anything that raises the issue in people's minds is good for us."
A senior GOP strategist added, "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush." He called it "a little gift," saying it helps the President but doesn't guarantee his re-election.
Halloween Tidings from the 'War on Terror'
Analysis - By Jim Lobe -- U.S. President George W Bush is fortunate indeed that so much of the electorate has already made up its mind on its vote next Tuesday, because this week's news from the ''war on terrorism'' has been unrelentingly bad.
While the apparently looting -- apparently right after last year's U.S.-led invasion -- of nearly 400 tonnes of high explosives from an enormous weapons cache south of Iraq's capital Baghdad dominated the media and the presidential campaign all week, other reports painted an equally dismal picture that tended to confirm Democratic charges of a misconceived and incompetent war and occupation.
A week that began with reports of the missing munitions and a high-level leak that claimed the Bush administration had passed up an early chance to assassinate or apprehend arch-terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi ended with the airing of a video-tape by arch-enemy Osama bin Laden, the first to surface in more than two years, as if to remind the U.S. public that Bush had not gotten him either ''dead or alive'', as the president had pledged shortly after the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
Bin Laden's dramatic appearance -- perhaps the long-feared ''October surprise'' that might yet determine Tuesday's electoral outcome -- immediately overshadowed both the munitions story and Friday's publication by Britain's premier medical journal, 'The Lancet', of a new study that estimated as many as 100,000 more Iraqis have died or been killed since the invasion than would otherwise have been expected, a number at least three times greater than other independent estimates put forward to date.
So what is the consensus around here? Is it real or is it memorex?