The main lesson to take home from the recent uproar about postponing the fall elections is that the Democrats have to have an immediate, aggressive political response ready for any terrorist event that might take place. In many respects, the Kerry campaign’s ability to respond quickly to events during the campaign will be taken by the voters as an indicator of President Kerry’s ability to respond effectively to terrorism. (If Kerry can’t beat Bush, he certainly can’t beat Osama Bin Laden.)
Recent reports have told us that the Bush administration is trying to schedule Osama’s capture in accordance with the Republican Party’s political needs. For that reason, it is important that no one in the executive branch should be given the power to postpone the election. Whichever one of them has that power will postpone the election if he thinks that doing so will help Bush, and not otherwise.
The Republican behavior during the Florida recount tells us not to expect them to pull any punches this year either, and we should make systematic preparations to match them tit for tat — even down to the formation of flying goon squads, on the model of the Brooks Brothers rioters who did such a great job intimidating the Supreme Court in 2000. We should fight for every single point at every stage of the game.
Since we cannot hope for a neutral arbiter this time around (because of the Supreme Court’s outrageous Florida decision), this means that the situation we’re facing is exceptionally brittle. If I were David Broder I would make some gaseous comments about civility and implore everyone to be nice and play fair, but I’m not David Broder, and we know that the Republicans are not going to play fair.
Rush Limbaugh doesn’t want the elections postponed either, mostly because he thinks that a terrorist attack will help Bush. Does this mean that the trial balloon from the virtually unknown DeForest Soaries was a cunning trick to fool the Democrats into opposing any postponement?
I doubt it. Obviously the bad guys need to have a response for every contingency, and Limbaugh is working the no-postponement side. The Kerry campaign has to be ready for anything too, and the no-postponement principle will take a key weapon out of the Bush campaign’s hand.
The big job is to make sure that a terrorist attack, if it takes place, does not help George Bush. And indeed, why should his failure work in his favor? The war in Iraq had nothing much to do with fighting terror. If there’s another terrorist attack, won’t it tell us that Bush has screwed up?