Boston and surrounding suburbs are on lockdown Friday following a dramatic night of law enforcement chasing two suspects believed to be responsible for Monday's Boston Marathon bombings. The manhunt left one of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, dead, while law enforcement continues to search for his brother, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Mass.
The two men are believed to be natives of Chechnya, but have lived in the United States for a number of years, creating further ambiguity over whether the bombings were an act of foreign or domestic terrorism. Amongst the unfolding search for the surviving suspect, the blogosphere analyzes news coverage of events, and what the long-lasting impact of the terrorist attack may be:
Chris Cillizza of The Fix said the national reaction to the Boston bombings is reminiscent of the weeks following the September 11 terrorist attacks, and this attack will also likely have long-term political repercussions:
That series of events calls to mind nothing so much as the three-week period in the fall of 2001 when the country was stunned and horrified by the terrorist attacks of September 11 and then further terrified by a series of anthrax-laced letters sent to two senators and three news outlets.
The comparison is inexact. The attack of Sept. 11 left nearly 3,000 dead; the Boston bombings left only three. Sept. 11 was a pivot point in the history of the United States, a jolting realization that we were not safe even in our own country. The bombings on Monday simply reinforced that new(ish) reality.
The lesson of that fall of 2001 as we look beyond Boston?
1. When the culture is shaken to its core by external events, politics changes too. While the depth of the changes this time around seem likely to be less drastic than what we saw in the aftermath of Sept. 11, the unsettling of the population is, without question, meaningful.
2. The near-term political impact may be very different than the longer-term impact. While Republicans benefited politically from the focus on national security and terrorism in the three years after the events of 2001, the attacks — and the actions the government took — wound up badly damaging the GOP brand over the long haul.
3. Our desire to draw hard and fast conclusions about "what it all means" days after a tragedy like Boston is admirable but impossible. We are standing right in front of a very large picture at the moment, a view that makes true perspective impossible.
Greg Sargent of the Plum Line too said there will likely be political ramifications of the attacks:
There's still a lot we don't know, but it's being widely reported that the two suspects in the Boston bombing — one of whom has been killed by police — are brothers of Chechen origin. According to law enforcement sources, the brothers entered the U.S. in 2002 or 2003, and at least one of them has been a legal permanent resident since 2007.
Some on the right are already pouncing on the news to cast doubt on the desirability of immigration reform. This morning, Ann Coulter Tweeted:
"It's too bad Suspect # 1 won't be able to be legalized by Marco Rubio, now."
It's unclear thus far how widespread the effort among conservatives will be to connect the Boston bombing suspects to the immigration reform debate. But it's certainly something that bears watching. If this argument picks up steam, it will be another indication of how ferocious the resistance on the right to immigration reform is going to get.
Steve Erickson at the American Prospect said 9/11 will forever have an impact on how Americans react to events that have the markings of a terrorist attack:
Consequently, second explosions now instantly suggest something foreign because so often it involves the conspiracy we've instinctively come to think of as jihadist; we assume lone wolves are domestic, or "American," almost by definition. Two resonates as the numerical language of foreign orchestration and thus, within minutes of it happening, some of our more intuitive political chatterboxes deduced Islamic cunning in the attack at Boylston Street near Copley Square, with at least one commentator offering that the whole thing certified Barack Obama's status as the worst president ever.