So how does this new bin Laden tape play politically in the US?
I'm really not sure.
Republicans are already trying to play this, as Drudge says
now on his site, as bin Laden "campaign[ing] against Bush."
A friend tells me that the Bush-propaganda-organ Fox News is calling it bin Laden's 'endorsement' of Kerry.
On the other hand, this cuts against the Bush administration's frequent suggestions that al Qaida has been routed or that bin Laden may in fact be dead.
Much depends of course on how the press plays it. I notice for instance that as of 4:37 PM on MSNBC the front page headline momentarily had bin Laden saying "Bush cannot protect America" before correcting it to read "neither Bush nor Kerry can protect America."
: That observation is from a rushed clicking back and forth over their site. So let me make that subject to possible later correction. But that's how it appeared.]
Clearly, Kerry has to hit the ground with a tough and emphatic statement in response to this and gear up his team's operation to go head-to-head with what will no doubt be a desperate Bush campaign's effort to use this to connect Kerry and bin Laden to shift the pro-Kerry momentum of the race in the final days of the campaign.
It seems to me that Kerry should tell voters what he's been telling them for months. That he'll take the fight to bin Laden, that he won't get distracted the way the president has, and that the one thing this tape shows is that the president hasn't gotten the job done.
If he had, there'd be no bin Laden to be making these tapes.