August 30, 2004

“The Timing is Suspicious”

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this Israeli spy scandal, except that we don’t know anything yet, and it’ll probably be awhile before we do. But one thing I have noticed in commentary on it, especially with the story breaking right before the convention, is one phrase: “the timing is suspicious.”

If you read blogs and/or listen a lot to political hacks of any stripe, this is a phrase you’re probably used to hearing. It accompanies every terror alert, every “gotcha” revelation about anyone's past, and just about every bit of news that comes out for any reason ever, especially in connection with the presidential campaign.

But here’s the problem: the timing with everything is always suspicious. With today’s 24-hour news cycle, so much information is being hurtled at us at all times that whenever other, more major information emerges, it can only make it look as though it’s connected to other events, even when it’s not. The worst instance of all was when Saddam Hussein was captured last December, and conspiracy theorists accused Bush of timing the capture for political advantage- as though mid-December were prime political season for an incumbent president unopposed in his primary.

Like for instance: If Osama Bin Laden were to be captured tomorrow, every opponent of President Bush would scream that “the timing is suspicious,” because we’re in the middle of the Republican convention. Had he been captured two weeks ago, it would’ve been “timed suspiciously” to build up momentum heading into the convention; were it to happen in two weeks, it would be to distract from the debates, etc. In fact, a theoretical Bin Laden capture at, really, anytime in the last three years could’ve been spun as a nefarious Bush plot- but since he hasn’t been captured, that’s been spun against Bush too.

But what if it happened in Kerry’s first week as president? Wouldn’t the timing be suspicious?

Posted by Stephen Silver at August 30, 2004 09:04 PM
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