Lerner newspaper columnist and former radio host Ed Schwartz predicted last week that the Bush administration will find Osama Bin Laden just a few weeks before the election, thus securing second term with a swell of patriotism. He saw a story recently that set the stage by quoting a government official saying that Bin Laden's time was running out. I saw that story, too, and I also fear an "October surprise" featuring Bin Laden. Don't get me wrong--I hope Bin Laden dies a slow and painful death. I would be mighty suspicious, however, of the timing of such an announcement. In fact, I would seriously doubt its veracity. "Are you saying that they will say they found Bin Laden whether it's true or not?" my wife asked incredulously. Yes, I believe they would. It wouldn't be their first lie, and by the time anyone figured out the truth, Bush would already be into his second term. Some experts say that Bin Laden has been dead for some time, particularly since he reportedly needed dialysis, which would be difficult to get in hiding or especially on the run. Perhaps Bush knows that Bin Laden is dead, but he will not reveal it until it benefits him politically (I haven't always this cynical, honest).
Another thing to look out for in October, of course, would be a terrorist attack like Al Qaeda used in Spain to influence the elections. A new attack could have the opposite effect here, as I predict that undecided voters would rally around the president (rather than throw out the ruling party, as the Spanish did). The Republicans have also been working on a plan to delay the elections if such a thing occurs. Conspiracy theorists go further, predicting an indefinite postponement of the election coupled with martial law.