Thursday, November 20, 2008

Really Reaching Now

There once was a time when a new bin Laden tape could strike fear into our hearts, but that was mostly immediately following September 11th. In 2004 bin Laden released a tape just days before the presidential election to which some attribute Bush's victory. At that point he might have had some measure of influence

Yet the last time we actually saw bin Laden on tape, as opposed to listening to voiceovers, recall, was in September 2007. More notable than any of the usual "Death to America" tripe, of which there was comparatively little, were mentions of the news of the day like "the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes." He sounded like he was making a run for elected office.

Now the news making the rounds is that bin Laden's number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri has resorted to calling Barack Obama a "house negro," a remark which on a political circle rests somewhere to the left of Ted Rall's use of the less polite version of that term on Condoleezza Rice, and to the right of Rush Limbaugh's "Barack the Magic Negro" song.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue, no doubt. But perhaps we can claim it as a strange, minor victory that the terrorists, whose very occupation involves sewing fear, are sounding less like an existential threat to western civilization and more like the outer fringes of our punditocracy.

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