Silly Matthew Yglesias thinks that the fact that OBL is still around to taunt Bush is a sign of weakness:
The most interesting thing about the Osama tape is the reference to My Pet Goat. That business was, even when Michael Moore did it, closer to being a joke than a serious argument. So now Osama’s cracking jokes at our expense. He’s not afraid, he’s not injured, he’s not on the run, he doesn’t worry that the courier that delivers his videotapes might betray him, or that the local government wherever he is is going to find him. He’s sitting — wounds healed, shura council reconstituted, ideological network growing — and he’s laughing at us.
Capturing OBL is not the be-all and end-all of the war on terrorism, but if you want to know what kind of weakness invites the wolves in for supper, then you saw it right there on video. A man plots and organizes the slaughter of thousands of Americans and three years later there he is, distributing his latest threats and boasts over a global satellite network. Laughing at us. At all of us. And all because the president couldn’t be bothered to nab him.
But we know that what Yglesias says is false because Republicans are almost by definition stronger on national defense. At least, that’s how they’ve defined themselves, and if there were anything objectionable in that I’m pretty sure the media would have called them on it by now.
Once we think about things this way, we can help ourselves to a theory with an incredible amount of explanatory power: It helps us understand why J.F.K. cravenly backed down over the Cuban missile crisis (after coming to power by foolishly assuring everyone that there was no gap in Soviet and American military capabilities); it explains why Johnson deescalated the conflict in Vietnam; why Reagan stood firm after the attacks in Lebanon; and so on and so forth. Finally, this powerful theory explains why Bush is not weak, even though if bin Laden were now taunting President Gore on a video a few days before the election, no one would be able to stop making comparisons to Jimmy Carter. And no one – absolutely no one – would imagine that he had any hope of reelection. Rightly so, too. Gore’s a democrat, and we know what they’re like: they’re weak.