McCain adviser Charles Black raised some eyebrows in a Fortune interview:
A top adviser to Sen. John McCain said that a terrorist attack in the United States would be a political benefit to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, a comment that was immediately disputed by the candidate and denounced by his Democratic rival.
Charles R. Black Jr., one of McCain’s most senior political advisers, said in an interview with Fortune magazine that a fresh terrorist attack “certainly would be a big advantage to him.” He also said that the December assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, while “unfortunate,” helped McCain win the Republican primary by focusing attention on national security.
This was quite the story yesterday, with the media and bloggers talking about it and the Obama campaign, and while it goes without saying that it is obnoxious, offensive, and more of the Rovian fear-mongering that has been of dwindling efficacy since 2002, I guess my only real remark on the issue is why anyone is surprised or why people are considering it a gaffe. We know this is what they think, and this is not the first time someone has said something like this. I remember multiple instances in which some Republican made some iteration of the statement, and off the top of my head I can give you Rick Santorum in an interview with Hugh Hewitt:
You know, I’ve talked to all three of the major candidates, that I think will be the major candidates, and that’s Giuliani, Romney and Thompson. I think those will be the three major candidates when we head into the final analysis. And I think all of them understand the issue very, very well, they understand particularly the importance of Iran, and confronting Iran in the Middle East as an absolute lynchpin for our success in that region, and I think they are committed to that. And while it may not be a popular thing to talk about right now, and I know public sentiment is against it, they understand the importance of the national security of this country, and they also understand that between now and November, a lot of things are going to happen, and I believe that by this time next year, the American public’s going to have a very different view of this war, and it will be because, I think, of some unfortunate events, that like we’re seeing unfold in the UK. But I think the American public’s going to have a very different view, and part of it will be the education that these three men will be imparting on the American public during the course of this campaign.
What Black said is nothing new- it is just more of the same, and I am sure we can dig up others who have made similar comments. It may have been more blunt, and I guess the surprising aspect is that someone so close to the McCain campaign would be that outspoken about the issue, but it is what they think and has been part of their strategy all along (and, I might add, the Obama campaign is aware of the GOP strategy and is meeting it head on- that is why he is addressing McCain head on, pointing out the number of security failures of the Bush administration). But other than that, I don’t see what the big deal is- the Republicans have been running on a campaign of fear since 9/11, and if McCain wins, expect him to lead using the principle heretofore to be known as the Rule of the Damp Trouser for four more years.
Fear. It is really all they have left.