Incompetent Terrorist Attacks Might Help Donald Trump

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Ahmad Khan Rahami appears to have been a pretty incompetent terrorist. One of Josh Marshall’s readers says this is no surprise:

Good intelligence work, good police work, more aware citizenry and other measures set up since 9/11 have limited — for now, and hopefully far into the future — the ability of major terrorist plots to get off the ground in the US. Major cells get disrupted, chatter on social media leads to arrests, and then great police work over this past weekend gets the bad guy in no time. There simply isn’t any scope for large-scale, mass-casualty events at the moment in the US. Our strategy is working.

If all the serious plotting gets discovered and broken up, the only plots left are small, poorly thought out ones. That’s the good news. But there’s no way to stop every single one of these penny-ante Osamas, so it’s inevitable that we’ll periodically get hit with smallish-scale attacks. That’s the bad news—especially since Ed Kilgore thinks Ross Douthat might have been right about which candidate benefits most from pint-sized terrorist attacks. Here’s Douthat:

I don’t think it’s a simple case of “the worse the blow, the better for Trump.” The Man From Mar-a-Lago is many things, but he isn’t a reassuring figure or a steady hand, and the prospect of putting him in charge in the midst of an enormous national security crisis might give many undecided voters pause.

….What Trump benefits most from, I suspect, is a more limited sense that things are out of control — a feeling of anxiety about the world that pulses through your TV set or your computer screen but hasn’t yet hit your neighborhood or family or bank account directly….He would benefit more from another spate of Islamic State beheadings than he would from a terrorist attack that required a major military response,

Maybe so. It’s an interesting, if unsettling theory, anyway.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate