(Unless, that is, they had better intelligence prior to 9/11/01 than they have so far admitted.)
Could Cheney's fear-mongering backfire? I'd like to think so. But there are so many dumb Americans -- and I don't mean natively dumb so much as dumbed down -- that the chances aren't too good.
Still, there's some call for hope. Read through this Netscape NewsForum in which ordinary Americans give feedback on Cheney's comments. There are plenty of idiotic statements, to be sure, but also some encouragingly perceptive ones, like #9:
No question Cheney crossed the line. And I agree with Edwards, who said that what he's saying is that if Americans vote in Kerry then it's their fault if they get attacked. If Cheney thinks we're so safe now, why does the administration keep issuing its terror warnings and claiming an elevated risk (always at politically opportune times)? I'm making a prediction here -- about a week to three days before the election the administration is going to announce that new evidence has come in that the terrorists are planning a major attack around, say, Thanksgiving. Subsequent to the election we'll hear that the terrorist plot was disrupted by the government's quick action, or if confronted by the lack of evidence, that it "misread" the evidence or was seeking to err on the side of caution. We've already seen the administration claim an elevated risk based on evidence that turned out to be years old.It's the sad reality of our times, I'm afraid, that "encouragingly perceptive" statements usually convey discouraging content.
What seems clear from back-and-forth of this nature is that the political gulf in the United States is widening at an alarming rate. Everyone's courting the so-called "moderate" portion of the electorate, but it's becoming a mighty thin slice of pie.
I know my devotion to the United States might not survive another Bush Administration.