Friday :: Oct 29, 2004

The Importance of Al Qaqaa


by dj moonbat

We have some widely divergent views on just how significant this looting from Al Qaqaa ("The Qaqaa") will turn out to be.

On the one hand, we have Josh Marshall, who goes so far as to say that the latest developments (the video and David Kay) mean "Game. Set. Match." Our own inestimable Mary concurs.

On the other hand, you have those who have seen too many damning indictments of the adminsitration fail to hit the mark: Kevin Drum says "The evidence so far seems to indicate that the explosives were indeed looted after the invasion. But does it matter? Is 380 tons of this stuff really important in the grand scheme of things?"

Matthew Yglesias says "I must say that I find Josh's apparent faith that the fact that the facts prove Bush to be totally wrong about Al Qaqaa and Kerry to be totally right will somehow affect the media coverage of the campaign to be somewhat naive."

I have to agree with Mr. Yglesias for once. There's no way that Al Qaqaa will succeed where Abu Ghraib and all the other scandalous revelations of carelessness--or worse--failed.

But there's very, very good news: It doesn't matter.

The administration has a way of dealing with these things. They distort like crazy, throwing out conjecture and irrelevancies until the press gets disoriented and loses sight of its prey, like a predator thrown off by the ink from a squid. This method will likely succeed here, too.

But this method assumes that once things blow over, the Bush team will then have time to go back to an all-Rove, all-the-time offensive. By the time this thing blows over, it will be too late for that. It will be Election Day. As Krugman says,

[W]orst of all from the right's point of view, Al Qaqaa has disrupted the campaign's media strategy. Karl Rove clearly planned to turn the final days of the campaign into a series of "global test" moments - taking something Mr. Kerry said and distorting its meaning, then generating pseudo-controversies that dominate the airwaves. Instead, the news media have spent the last few days discussing substance. And that's very bad news for Mr. Bush.

To end the election in a confusing game of "he said, he said" for the final few days would have been fine for Bush, if the accusations were about Kerry. But no matter how much confusion enters the debate about Al Qaqaa, there's no way that it could be Kerry's fault (although Bush's efforts to make it look like Kerry was impugning our troops' capacity were a valiant attempt).

Whether or not this stolen HMX provides damning evidence, it has raised enough discussion to rob Rove of airtime for the last wave of dirty campaigning that he needed. Perhaps fittingly, these stolen explosives will ensure that Bush goes out not with a bang, but with a whimper.

UPDATE: Reader N in Seattle points out a delicious karmic wrinkle in comments:

Even if they knew something was coming up about it, they were completely unprepared to be hoisted on the petard of an embedded reporter. They thought they knew that by preventing journalists from finding their own stories, they'd made the war itself into a Bush victory video game. But that ploy all of a sudden leapt up and bit them on their sorry asses.

UPDATE 2: Edited to remove boneheaded syntactical redundancy.

UPDATE 3: Regular reader Bragan informs me that I stole the "not with a bang..." bit from him, and in comments, he clearly backs it up. I knew I had seen that line somewhere...

As some guy once said, "Good artists borrow. Great artists steal." Now who was that? I'm so lousy with names.

dj moonbat :: 8:11 AM :: Comments (51) :: Digg It!