Agam's Gecko
Thursday, November 04, 2004
On the last Friday of the presidential election campaign, "Osama Bin Laden Announced his Vote for John Kerry". Thus writes the progressive columnist Dr. Mamoun Fandy, for an article in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram.

It was quite the "blast from the past" moment for me, suddenly seeing old Osama once again, assuming his affected saintly teaching posture and lecturing out of the video clip on the Indonesian news and public affairs network METRO. He looked fit and healthy -- the only difference being that his beard had put on a few inches. Only after I returned home on Sunday, was I able to enjoy a reading of Walter Cronkite's quip (as quoted on Instapundit), that Karl Rove must have put him up to it for "October Surprise" purposes..... AND that Walter thought Osama looked "clean shaven"!

[rummage, rummage...] Here it is: Walter on Larry King:
And the thing that in bringing this threat to us, there is almost, in the fact that he dressed well, that he looked well, he was clean shaven, nearly clean shaven as those folks get.
Get that? "...clean shaven as these folks get." When I saw Osama on that screen, "cleanshaven" was not among the top 30,000 things that came to my mind.

Then on Tuesday afternoon here, I heard Mr. Bush's reply -- in his final appeal of a late Monday night rally over there.

"Stand with me," he asked of them. And they did.

By any reasonable measure, Bush has secured a mandate. By increasing his majority in Congress, and by having a solid majority of popular vote which nobody really expected, there will be a lot of crow to eat in some quarters. But it doesn't make me feel like celebrating at all -- it's more a sense of relief and thanks. Thank you American people, that most of you stood with him.

If there would be any selfish pleasure I would take out of Bush's strengthened mandate, it would be to imagine the possibility of being at some airport somewhere to wave off all the snobby spokes-persons of the American cultural elite as they fulfill their promises to leave the country if Chimpy got in again. Bye-bye Alex Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Michael Moore and whoever else absolutely could not bear another 4 years. Don't let the door smack your arses on the way out.

Oh, and the Eurotopians too. It's a pleasure this morning to watch these airheaded, but cliche-filled 'person-in-the-street' interview subjects, not to mention the elderly hippie-chick managing to blurt out -- the tears still pouring down her face -- "We're bummed out, man." OK so it's not very nice to take enjoyment from other people's despair -- but that's the whole point. The despair is totally fake to begin with. The absolute depression expressed by some of the Europeans, as though it was a way to measure their own progressive goodness -- "Oh it's such a disaster for the world which we fully empathise in our progressive way of solidarity with the oppressed," and "We expected that Bush would be only a temporary disease," -- is so overdone and fake as to sound like conceited expressions of their own cultural and moral superiority. If one listens, there are never any actual reasons or substantiation, just rehashing of what passes for conventional wisdom. "Dat Boosh, 'ee jus want to do 'ees own aims, eet ees so terrible." Or some such like impromptu analysis.

Oh... Oh... but then there's the media figures and talking heads that gave me so much glee yesterday. They were clearly depressed, or at least most of them. And after the mainstream media worked so hard to elect Kerry too. The only US network available to me here is CNN -- and when I can't take the smarmy-ness of Aaron Brown or the blow-hard-ness of Wolf Blitzer anymore, I can only switch to the Bush-hating BBC (where they actually cry on camera for Yasser Arafat's noble self).

Well. I guess I do actually derive quite a bit of guilty pleasure from the result. But it really is relief more than anything else. I wrote on Tuesday that I hoped to have the answer by noon here yesterday, and around noontime it did look possible. But then some people were evidently determined not to have a result until having a sleep first, with New Mexico and Iowa being held off until the next day. So it's another relief that Mr. Kerry didn't go the route of sending in his lawyer armies to "fight for every vote" (as Edwards had promised). The math just didn't work for them to have a hope of snatching Ohio, and it would have looked really petty and desparate to try. So I guess the concession came before midnight here, but as I'm fighting off a cold I didn't stay up that late.

More on Osama's "carrot and stick" approach to the US voters at election time is here, also on the MEMRI site. As this article shows, the mainstream media got the translation quite wrong -- or at least an important part of it. There is some valuable analysis here of Osama's language usage and certain differences between this and previous tapes. But in one crucial instance, the media reported that in issuing threats against each "wilayah" which supports Bush, he was referring to other countries. In fact, I didn't previously know that "wilayah" is an Arabic word, since it's use is common in Indonesia to refer to jurisdictional districts or other sub-sets of the national territory. Its usage is often more general also, like "that area (wilayah) has good durian fruit" or some such. In this case, Osama was using it to refer to each individual state, evidently showing some understanding of the US electoral system. It seems as such a basic thing as a direct threat of violence from the al Qaeda leader should have had a bit more care taken to translate it accurately.

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