Is it a coincidence that as elections near Mr. Bush is hammering home his be-very-afraid message again? He has been quoting Osama so often lately you'd be forgiven for thinking the two were in league -- running mates, even.

We can now see very plainly why Osama was allowed to slip away at Tora Bora. He was extremely useful to Mr. Bush in the last election, with a well-timed video, and you can see how Mr. Bush is relying heavily on him to win elections for the GOP this time around, too.

And I'm not just talking about endless speeches where Bush is unabashedly using Bin Laden as a bogeyman. Instead of seeing the fact that America's arch-nemesis slipped away as a point of shame, the President is very nearly taunting Americans with his supposed enemy's continued existence. Given this administration's penchant for fear-mongering at pivotal moments, it would almost seem strange if there weren't a "new" video released to coincide with Mr. Bush's latest terror blitz.

Indeed, now we have the release of a "new" video -- from FIVE YEARS AGO -- showing Bin Laden and his troops training for terror attacks. Yawn. Reruns AGAIN? The message here is clearly "don't forget, you're supposed to BE VERY AFRAID."

It resonates with a lot of people, no doubt about it. But it's such an unimaginative solution to the problems of an open society. There is a threat. It's real. That's not the issue here, though. The issue is to what degree it is being exploited for political and financial gain by those in positions to exploit it for such. And it's perfectly clear that it is being pretty shamelessly exploited by Mr. Bush and his cohorts.

I'm not saying anything everybody doesn't know. It's a formula. When the Communist bugaboo disappeared -- poof -- just like that, America was like the Red Sox after The Curse was reversed. We didn't know what to do with ourselves. Someone said it was The End of History. Nothing left to do but sit and twiddle our thumbs.

Terror is terror. You can't "win" a "War on Terror" by actively perpetuating terror, as this administration has done, and continues to do. But are we really terrified? The President seems a little desparate, doesn't he? I suspect we are not terrified enough for him.


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