Matt Yglesias writes:

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.

For starters, Black was asked about the effect of a terrorist attack, and he answered honestly (Matt is not disputing that an attack would help the GOP). Second, there have not been any terrorist attacks in the United States in almost seven years! This "paradox" would be slightly more worrisome if America had been continually attacked, and the GOP seemed to be enjoying the ensuing wave of popularity. Moreover, who are these conservatives who are "yearning for disaster?" I can't think of any examples off the top of my head--and surely Matt does not think McCain or Bush wants to see Americans die. Finally, anecdotal evidence would suggest that some liberals are not all that upset about a poor economy in an election year. Does this make them bad people? I think not. And surely this was true with certain conservatives in 2000, who hyped bad economic news. Both sides make calculations and may sometimes secretly or mischeviously wish for bad things in exchange for what they perceive to be the greater good at some point down the road. (And no, I don't think this contradicts my previous point about McCain hoping for a terrorist attack: It's easier to wish for something like weak employment figures than it is to wish for the death of your fellow citizens).

--Isaac Chotiner