Republicans are gleeful at the prospect that - with just three weeks to go to the November 2nd mid-term elections - they are poised to make significant gains in both the House and Senate. All other things being equal, the GOP is thought likely to secure a majority in the former; some prognosticators think it may even take control of the latter.
But what if all other things aren't equal? What if the highly disciplined, basically one-issue campaign Republicans and their Tea Party allies have so assiduously run - namely, the promise to do a better job than the Democrats of creating jobs, keeping down spending and curbing the bloat in government - is up-ended by one or more terrorist attacks?
In such an event, there would, of course, be many other factors that would come into play before the electoral repercussions are considered. These include: the death and destruction wrought by the perpetrators - especially if they are not merely jihadists operating commando-style in the mold of the perpetrators of the Mombai massacre, but attackers wielding weapons of mass destruction; the possibly widespread disruption of infrastructure and services, both governmental and those of the private sector; and the planning and execution of appropriate retaliation against the perpetrators and those who may have abetted the attacks, quite possibly at home as well as abroad.
Still, it is predictable that terrorists who undertake mass murder on the eve of an election in a democratic polity like ours both seek and will surely have an impact on the polls. The question is: With what effect?
Assuming the balloting could and would go forward across the country as scheduled, voters might be reinforced in their expected turn to the Republicans. After all, the GOP has been seen as more robust on national security than the Democrats for a generation and much of the blame for our present vulnerability could rightly be laid at the feet of the Obama administration.
On the other hand, Americans tend to rally around the President in times of grave national crisis and war. If Mr. Obama responded forcefully and effectively - a big if, but not out of the question - Republican prospects this Fall might be considerably different than they seem at the moment. That is especially true insofar as the GOP has lately done little to differentiate its positions on national security from those of the Democrats; in fact, some prominent Republicans have taken to insisting that tens of billions of dollars must be cut from the defense budget in the months ahead.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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