Maybe we’ll see a great big terrorist plot targeting the US foiled in the next couple of weeks. The story wouldn’t even need to hold up long-term, as long as it freaks people out through Election Day. Maybe there’ll just be another spooky terror-threat increase à la 2004, one that makes people stock up on bottled water and duct tape and vote Republican on November 7. Or maybe the GOP is poised to play some sort of immigration-related trump card. How ’bout a crackdown on illegal aliens employed by some big, Democratic-friendly employer? Or better yet: a Latino bearing anthrax (in a piñata!) gets caught at the US-Mexico border.
Surprise! We like boys!
But wait. How exactly does the troubling tale of newly disgraced Republican congressman Mark Foley — former leader of the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus — fit into this narrative of Republican treachery and Democratic victimhood? After all, Foley’s serial flirtations with underage House pages could become the defining scandal of the 2006 elections: this week, the Washington Times — the nation’s most reliably conservative newspaper — called on Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign immediately for abetting (intentionally or not) Foley’s repeated e-dalliances with teenage boys. The Foley debacle still hasn’t played out, but it seems safe to say it can only hurt the GOP. (Among other things, the Foley revelations could depress turnout by the party’s conservative Christian base next month.)
It’s not clear what role, if any, Democrats played in bringing this story to light or driving it forward. But clearly, Republicans aren’t the only beneficiaries of late-breaking developments. This might be a good time for liberal readers to try a little thought experiment: if similar revelations had just been made about a Democratic candidate, how would you respond? For that matter, would it bother you if you learned that one or more Democrats had helped ABC News break the Foley story? Be honest, now.
Another thought: Rove’s mysterious October surprise may have already happened. This past Sunday, Britain’s Sunday Times posted a video of Mohammed Atta and Ziad Jarrah — the 9/11 ringleader and hijacker of United Airlines Flight 93, respectively — yukking it up for the camera and then (more somberly, natch) reading their martyrdom messages out loud. Since terrorism is the GOP’s political trump card, anything that puts terrorism on the brain bodes well for the Republican Party — and the fact that this video had reportedly been kicking around for a while certainly seems fishy. The 700-mile fence between the US and Mexico approved by the Senate last week could yield Republican votes. Or the price of gas might keep going down, until it finally levels off at a buck a gallon on Election Day.
Or maybe — just maybe — all this talk of an 11th-hour shocker is just a bunch of BS aimed at throwing Democrats off their game. “Democrats are so psyched out about Karl Rove that they always assume he has an October surprise — or two — waiting for them,” says Mark Halperin, political director of ABC News and the co-author of a new book, The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008, that examines Rove’s methods. “The Democrats spend so much time bracing for the surprise that they lose valuable time, just the way Rove wants it.”
: Talking Politics
, Massachusetts Democratic Party, Mark Foley, Tom Ridge, More