Thursday, August 10, 2006

Is the London Hand-Lotion Bomb Plot "something dramatic"?

From Charlie Cook, of the Cook Political Report, writing Saturday (Aug 5) [emphasis mine]:

Time is running out for Republicans. Unless something dramatic happens before Election Day, Democrats will take control of the House. And the chances that they'll seize the Senate are rising toward 50-50.

Has "something dramatic" happened? News from London (via the NYT):
British authorities said today that they had thwarted a terrorist plot to blow up multiple airliners traveling between Britain and the United States and cause "mass murder on an unimaginable scale."
There was a time when plots / attacks such as these would have a positive impact on the Administration's approval ratings. This might still be the case. By elevating the terror alert yellow to RED for flights from the UK to the US -- for the first time ever -- the Department of Homeland Security indicates to the American people both the seriousness of the threat faced by the London Hand-Lotion Bombers and the potential seriousness of future threats. In 2004, the perception of real or puffed-up threats to the Homeland was no small part of Bush's reelection and the GOP's further consolidation of gains in both the House and Senate.

But does that dog hunt anymore? With support waning for the Iraq War, the Bush Administration, and the GOP-controlled Congress, and with new conflicts erupting (or re-erupting) in Lebanon, Iran, and North Korea, it wouldn't be unreasonable for someone who had voted for Bush in 2004 to see the looming crises as signs of incompetence, and therefore perceive further terror plots of evidence of deep disfunctionality in our government's primary task: protect the American people.

I've asked it before and I'll ask it again: is it now the case that terror attacks, thwarted or otherwise, help or hurt the GOP in the polls?

I think it's the latter. While Congressional Democrats are unlikely to use the London plot to talk up the gross incompetence of the execution of the War on Terror™™, I have no doubt that Republicans will use the plot in the same tired way they always have to get "security moms" to the polls. But this time, given the facts on the ground in Iraq and Lebanon, terror attacks with domestic implications might no longer have the same effect on the American polity as they would have had two years ago.

To answer Charlie Cook, "something dramatic" may yet happen, but unless it involves a three-way trist between Rahm Emanuel, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi, I don't think it'll be in the GOP's favor.