"Security Moms" Doomsday is haunting Election Day

Posted: September 24, 2004

Soccer Moms, please step to the sidelines. Security Moms, get ready for your closeup.

Political taxonomists adore dividing the American electorate into cutely named classes e.g. Angry White Males, Bubbas, NASCAR dads.

Soccer Moms was a hot label of the '90s, denoting the moderate suburban women whom Bill Clinton beguiled with his stress on education, health care, the environment, and work-family pressures.

Here's one thing that 9/11 apparently did change: A lot of Soccer Moms have dropped the water bottles and picked up the worry beads.

Who is a Security Mom? It could be any mother who raced to her child's school on that brilliant September morning three years ago, wondering how to explain to a 9-year-old why her world included such horror. That experience will shake you up. It's not that class size, mammograms and flex time no longer matter. But those preoccupations of a sunnier time now pale next to Job One: Don't ever let what happened in Beslan happen to my children.

The pollsters now concur: The unspeakable slaughter of Russian schoolchildren by Chechen terrorists discernibly affected the American presidential campaign.

George W. Bush rose in polls and John F. Kerry fell. Bush's curious blend of doomsday warnings and chesty confidence apparently appeals more than Kerry's wintry, tongue-tied nuances. On style, Bush wins. Few voters have done a sober review of his actual record on terrorism, which is as spotty as his rhetoric is strong.

So, it seems, those who predicted that a terrorist strike would influence the election were right. And the clear beneficiary is the Bush-Cheney ticket.

So obviously, the terrorists want Bush to win. Wait a minute! you object. That statement is inflammatory, unprovable, unfair and obnoxious.

Of course you are right. Statement withdrawn. But it then follows, does it not, that it would be equally inflammatory, unfair and obnoxious to insinuate that the terrorists are rooting for Kerry to win?

Yet that insinuation - delivered in fuzzy syntax that gets clarified only after the blow hits home - is a staple of the Bush-Cheney campaign.

The multilayered message covers Bush for any outcome: If there is no attack on American soil before Nov. 2, that means Bush protected America. Thus, any vote for Kerry would amount to pressing your luck. If there is an attack, then that means the terrorists want Kerry to win. It's no reflection on Bush as scourge-on-terror.

Clever as hell. But, in fact, none of us knows what al-Qaeda plans before Nov. 2, or what bloody logic will motivate it. Any attempt to impute a bin Laden preference for either candidate is destructive and absurd.

It is a tactic that George Orwell would surely recognize.

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