What those surprises might be range from announcing the capture or death of Osama bin Laden to a surgical strike on Iran's fledgling nuclear program to ignoring a possible major terrorist attack against the U.S. -- or, conversely, announcing that they've foiled a frightening urban bomb plot. Or all of the above, and more.
Yes, of course Rove and his minions can count on their usual bag of electoral stratagems and dirty tricks on Election Day: knocking hundreds of thousands of minority voters off the voting rolls in various key states, requiring photo-IDs (often difficult for poor and rural folks to get -- a new kind of "poll tax") in order to cast a ballot, helping create new Swift Boat-type organizations to slime Democratic opponents with millions of dollars of TV ads, relying on corruptable e-voting machines and suspect vote-counting, and so on. But they've done most of those things for five years now.
No, my guess is that, given Bush's and the GOP's abysmally low poll numbers, the "suprises" are going to have to be something truly stunning if the Republicans want to avoid losing control of the House on November 7.
AN OSAMA BIN LADEN "SURPRISE"
The Republicans have little positive to run on. Virtually every initiative they touch turns into a disaster, from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to Katrina to the EPA telling lies about air quality at Ground Zero to Bush's ongoing plan to privatize Social Security to the stagnant economy. So the Busheviks are left with their old standby: frighten the crap out of the electorate on terror and taxes. That's it.
If one of the big "surprises" turns out to be a confirmation of the French/Saudi report that bin Laden died in late-August, Americans might well wonder why Rove and his crew, who obviously knew this news well in advance, waited six weeks for just the right pre-election moment to have it officially announced.
Well, lookee here, sometime after November 7, there's another little "surprise": It turns out the reports of bin Laden's death were greatly exaggerated, and he's still around. Whoops, our bad.
Not saying that scenario would happen, but stranger things have.
ROLL OUT THE TERROR PLOTS
By demanding that the Brits arrest the alleged "liquid-bomb" airline plotters immediately, way before the police there wanted, the Bush Administration demonstrated for all to see that it had no problems compromising a huge anti-terrorism investigation; the British authorities were working to ensnare more cell-members and get to the higher-ups, but Rove wanted what he wanted and he wanted it now.
In addition, as we later learned, reputable scientists showed that the "liquid bombs" these alleged conspirators supposedly were going to use would have been virtually impossible to mix on an airplane.
But so what? The arrests accomplished what Rove wanted: a scary scenario that Republican candidates could point to as a demonstration-model for why the GOP should be left in charge of the nation's national security. Didn't matter if the alleged plot was real or not, or hyped way beyond its true nature, or prematurely revealed for partisan political reasons, or any of that.
The point is that the Bush-friendly corporate media ate up the "imminent" terror scenario, and the story dominated the news cycles for several days, thus imprinting fright back into voters' minds. In some polls, this news plus Bush's pounding the fear theme in his 9/11 speeches has been enough to send him up a few points. (There ARE bad guys out there who'd love to do America great damage; that's not the issue. The issue is to how most intelligently to handle the situation.)
Will be interesting to see how much Bush's numbers plummet after this weekend's news that America's spying agencies unanimously have concluded, in their top-secret National Intelligence Estimate, ( www.nytimes.com/2006/09/24/world/middleeast/24terror.html?hp&ex=1159156800&en=22b7a0941b08007f&ei=5094&partner=homepage ) that Bush's war and occupation in Iraq have made the U.S. less secure, ( www.buzzflash.com/articles/contributors/428 ) not more. This is a HUGE dagger aimed at the heart of a CheneyBush Administration that claims its wars of choice have helped make us all safer.)