It would appear that God answers Republican prayers after all. Within a day of watching the Decider's popularity nose-diving to another all-time low, and within hours of having yet another shoe drop (itself not long after a different shoe fell; is it me, or does Foleygate have more shoes than Imelda Marcos?) in the Mark Foley scandals, North Korea claims it's joined the nukular club:
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea said Monday it has performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test. The country's official Korean Central News Agency said the test was performed successfully and there was no radioactive leakage from the site.
"The nuclear test is a historic event that brought happiness to the our military and people," KCNA said.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the test was conducted at 10:36 a.m. (9:36 p.m. EDT Sunday) in Hwaderi near Kilju city, citing defense officials.
I will not claim that Bush asked Kim Jong Il to do the test at this time, and neither will I claim that this is Karl Rove's much-vaunted "October Surprise." But I can't help but notice that the timing is awfully fucking convenient for the Bu$heviki. Usually, whenever the Boy Who Would Be King's approval ratings tank this badly, they up the FearCon level for a few days and scare enough of the waverers back into the "R" column. I think that trick's been played a few too many times and lost its effectiveness, so it would not surprise me if the Shrubbery had gone looking for a new trick. I just can't prove this was that trick.
But whatever the trick was or might have been, we now have a whole new ball game in Weltpolitik. Thanks entirely to the Decider-in-Chief, the one man on the face of the earth who is demonstrably clearly less sane than George W. Bush now also appears to have nuclear weapons at his disposal. Thanks a lot, boys. I feel so much safer now.
Unfortunately, I'm quite sure that many (if not most) of my fellow Americans are also feeling significantly less safe than they did half an hour ago, or last week. And, historically, that has been a Good Thing where Republicans were concerned--at least as far as their vote totals go. The one thing that could possibly push a huge, expanding, incredibly toxic sex-with-young-boys scandal off the front pages? The possibility that we may all wake up tomorrow morning, if we wake up at all, with a healthy radioactive glow about us.
Of course this is Bush's fault. He and his conservacon buddies have (admittedly with at least some help from Democrats and Democrats-in-sheep's-clothing--I'm looking at you, Mr. Lieberman!) absolutely refused to commit to diplomatic attempts to contain North Korea and work out a peaceful resolution to its desire to join the stupidest and most selective club on the face of the planet. But I rather doubt many voters are going to remember that salient fact when they step into the voting booths next month--if we get to, that is. Just as I'm morally certain we're going to start seeing a veritable flood of "Democrats-are-soft-on-defense" attack ads from the RNC by tomorrow afternoon. (I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt that they didn't know about this situation months or years ago, and don't already have such ads in the cans and ready to go on the air.)
Regrettably, I am suddenly a whole lot less sanguine about the Democrats' chances of retaking a majority in Congress than I was this morning. We may still be able to pull it off, especially if we can manage to tie this revolting development to Bush and the Rubber-Stamp Republicans. But it's going to be a long, tough, uphill battle.
Let's get fighting, boys and girls. The future we save may just be our own.
Update, 2345: According to a more substantive piece in the Times the United States Geological Survey claims it has yet to detect any seismic activity on the Korean peninsula on or about the time of the alleged test.
Update 2, 2350: The USGS is now reporting a "light" seismic event on the Korean peninsula at 0135 GMT, or around the time that North Korea claims it detonated its device. I'm not sure what we're looking at here.