Today’s must-read is this piece in Slate by Christopher Hitchens excoriating the Democrats for spreading the innuendo that the Bush administration has been keeping Osama bin Laden under wraps in a secret hiding place and plans to spring the news of his capture just before Election Day as a good-news boost to G.W.’s reelection campaign (thanks, Instapundit, for the hat tip.)

The corollary of this, as Hitchens correctly points out, is the Dems are hoping that bad news will instead emerge this month from Afghanistan or Iraq in order to give their man John F. Kerry a boost. Patriotic, huh? Nice way to support the American servicemen and servicewomen whose lives are on the line in those two war zones.

Hitchens cites none other than that lady of many opinions, Teresa Heinz Kerry, as the latest to whisper the Osama bin Laden canard. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he appeared in the next month,” she told the Phoenix Business Journal a few days ago.

Writes Hitchens:

“I first heard this ‘October surprise’ theory mentioned seriously, by a prominent foreign-policy Democrat, at an open dinner table in Washington about six months ago. Since then, I’ve heard it said seriously or semiseriously, by responsible and liberal people who ought to know better, all over the place. It got even worse when the Democratic establishment decided on an arm’s-length or closer relationship with Michael Moore and his supposedly vote-getting piece of mendacity and paranoia, Fahrenheit 9/11. (The DNC’s boss, Terence McAuliffe, asked outside the Uptown cinema on Connecticut Avenue [in Washington, D.C.] whether he honestly believed that the administration had invaded Afghanistan for the sake of an oil or perhaps gas pipeline, breezily responded, ‘I do now.’)

“What will it take to convince these people that this is not a year, or a time, to be d—ing around? Americans are patrolling a front line in Afghanistan, where it would be impossible with 10 times the troop strength to protect all potential voters on Oct. 9 from Taliban/al-Qaida murder and sabotage. We are invited to believe that these hard-pressed soldiers of ours take time off to keep Osama Bin Laden in a secret cave, ready to uncork him when they get a call from Karl Rove? For shame.”

Now that Bush is way ahead of Kerry in the polls, Hitchens says, many Dems are openly and cynically hoping for a dreadful catastrophe to befall America during the next few weeks:

“Some really bad news from Iraq, or perhaps Afghanistan, and/or a sudden collapse or crisis in the stock market, and Kerry might yet ‘turn things around.’ You have heard it, all right, and perhaps even said it. But you may not have appreciated how depraved are its implications. If you calculate that only a disaster of some kind can save your candidate, then you are in danger of harboring a subliminal need for bad news. And it will show. What else explains the amazingly crude and philistine remarks of that campaign genius Joe Lockhart, commenting on the visit of the new Iraqi prime minister and calling him a ‘puppet’? Here is the only regional leader who is even trying to hold an election, and he is greeted with an ungenerous sneer.

“The unfortunately necessary corollary of this–that bad news for the American cause in wartime would be good for Kerry–is that good news would be bad for him. Thus, in Mrs. Kerry’s brainless and witless offhand yet pregnant remark, we hear the sick thud of the other shoe dropping. How can the Democrats possibly have gotten themselves into a position where they even suspect that a victory for the Zarqawi or Bin Laden forces would in some way be welcome to them? Or that the capture or killing of Bin Laden would not be something to celebrate with a whole heart?”

Read the whole thing.