It’s a great time to be an Opinion editor. Last summer, news was a bit sparse — as it usually is around that time of the year — but this time around, big stories break almost every week. The Oracle, however, will stop publication at the end of this week and won’t pick up again until the Fall semester begins on Aug. 23. So here is a list of things to look out for over the coming weeks, specifically those that may affect the presidential election:
Ken Lay, of Enron fame, was indicted last week and may face serious jail time. The case will probably be prominent in the news, especially since thousands of people lost their life savings. Interestingly enough, Ken Lay is also rumored to be one of the people who sat in on a closed meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney during which this country’s energy policy was formulated. Enron also funded the Bush/Cheney ticket, and Lay spoke on numerous occasions in public to rally support for Bush. It’ll be interesting to see how the White House can take the stance of “corporate responsibility” and attack the Democratic ticket, yet steer clear of their involvement with one of the biggest corporate scandals in U.S. history. The fact that VP candidate John Edwards is a lawyer who fought for consumer rights against such corporations, is something the Republican Party already belittled him for, makes this even more interesting.
Speaking of the tickets, both parties still have to officially endorse them. The Democratic National Convention, held in Boston on July 26-29, will probably not have too many surprises in store, but you never know.
The Republican National Convention won’t be held until Aug. 30 – Sept. 2 in New York City, but since some Republicans believe Cheney is the wrong choice, there may be infighting in the party as the convention draws closer. Recent polls by Newsweek also suggest that Bush has better chances against Kerry/Edwards if he is not paired up with Cheney (45 percent of voters say they would vote for this ticket). Other tickets, such as the “only if it snows in hell” scenario of Bush/Colin Powell (53 percent) and Bush/John McCain (49 percent) would stand a better chance.
Cheney himself is, therefore, a bit of a wildcard. He recently swore on the Senate floor and his ties with Halliburton are hardly a plus either. His health is also worse than most think. Very few people know he had a heart attack only weeks before taking office, and the kind of pacemaker he relies on will not only soon need replacing, but also implies his condition is much more serious than the White House would like us to believe. So hang in there, Dick, or you may have to throw off all plans either because of health problems or because the party will cut you loose.
The biggest hurdle for Bush and Co. could be the impending release of the 9/11 Commission’s final report. A preliminary staff statement that indicated the Commission found “no credible evidence” that linked al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime already led to some major headlines. Cheney, still touting such a connection to this day, threw a hissy fit on national television and Bush said, “The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaeda, is because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda.” We’ll just have to see how they spin that one.
The overall assessment of how well Bush handled the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath will in itself be an assessment of the self-proclaimed “war president.” The campaign efforts that painted Bush as a “strong leader” may backfire if it is shown he made the wrong choices.
And then there is Osama bin Laden. The Bloomberg news service reported only last week the Bush administration was putting more pressure on Pakistan in order to capture him before the RNC. He could be more of a “July surprise” (rather than the traditional “October surprise”) to influence the campaign.
And of course, the biggest wildcard of them all: another terrorist attack. Apart from the obvious chaos such an attack would cause, Newsweek cited unnamed sources within the Department of Homeland Security that have sent inquiries to the Justice Department about what would need to be done in order to postpone the election should such an attack occur close to it.
So it’s bound to be an interesting summer — possibly too interesting for some. See you in the Fall.
Sebastian Meyer is a junior majoring in geography and an Oracle Opinion editor.