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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

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 Credibility As Political Currency

The credibility of a politician is their political currency. With a surplus of credibility, people will follow a leader because their experience has demostrated that the leader's judgement may be trusted. With a credibility deficit, leaders cannot lead, because no one will trust where their leader might take them.

Bush43 has a significant credibility deficit. The lies behind the Iraq war lost him any international following he might have once had. Continued lies and missteps are causing his similar loss of support at home.

This week the US Department of Homeland Security put financial institutions on a state of high alert for terrorist attacks.

Howard Dean, in an act of political courage, was one of the few to dare suggest publicly that politics could just have something to do with Tom Ridge's announcement. Dean told CNN, "It's just impossible to know how much of this is real and how much of this is politics, and I suspect there's some of both."

Today it was discovered that the intelligence behind the new warning is three years old. "The only real 'increased chatter' we’re seeing lately is between the White House and the Bush campaign headquarters in Arlington," mutters one anonymous Homeland Security operative. "There’s no greater threat today than there was six months ago."

The loss of credibility puts lives at risk. Like the townspeople in "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," a population eventually numbs itself to the rantings of a liar. Eventually the US will be attacked again, and there will be casualities that might have been avoided if official warnings were believed.

If only official warnings could be believed. It is clear that the timing of such warnings is politically motivated. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, the man most responsible for waging America’s war on terrorism, complains to staff that he gets very little time with the President and gets most of his marching orders lately from Ashcroft.

"This whole alert game is a cosmetic saber-rattle, a show of force to try and convince the American public that we’re on top of things," says one FBI agent. "Sadly, we’re not. When the next attack comes, it will be when we least expect it and when we don’t have an increased alert."

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