Charlie Black’s statement that “certainly it would be a big advantage to” John McCain for American civilians to be slaughtered by international terrorists helps bring to the surface the central paradox of our times. How reasonable is it to trust that a political movement will bring safety to the country when they themselves believe that doing so would ill-serve their interests? Insofar as representative democracy works as a system of government, the general idea is that politicians expect to be rewarded for good stuff happening and punished for bad stuff happening, and thus make some effort to try to see that good stuff rather than bad stuff happens. The post-9/11 GOP upends that relationship, and you repeatedly see instances of conservatives openly yearning for disaster to strike on the theory that that’ll show the liberals or boost Republican electoral fortunes.
Meanwhile, if I were Barack Obama I’d be trying to think of a plan to counter the fact that not only does al-Qaeda scaring people serve GOP interests, but Republicans keeping power also serves al-Qaeda’s interest in pushing the West into conflict with a broader circle of Muslims. According to Ron Suskind, the CIA’s view was that bin Laden released a tape shortly before the 2004 election specifically in order to boost George W. Bush’s re-election fortunes and there’s no particular reason to think that that sort of tactic won’t come back into play.