Bush's dubious Dubai guilt-trip.

A mostly political Weblog.
Feb. 24 2006 3:28 PM

Bush Dubious Dubai Guilt-Trip

Are port-sale critics a bunch of bigots?

Dubai-bye: The momentary CW, as kf discerns it, is that Bush will probably salvage the Dubai ports deal after a delay--perhaps with some K-Street/Krauthammer fig leaf  amendments. That's what I thought too, until I saw the latest Rasmussen poll. Stunningly, the port controversy has, for the first time, given Democrats the edge on national security, previously the key to the GOP's election victories. The port deal is also disfavored by a margin of 64%-17%, about as decisive a verdict as you get these days. Yes, it's Rasmussen, and yes, it was taken at the ignorant height of the controversy. But RCP is appropriately un-skeptical:

There's no way Republicans in Congress - especially those up for reelection this November - are going to stand by and let this single deal (irrespective of the merits) erase a 10-20 point advantage over Democrats on national security. Ain't gonna happen.

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Maybe Bush and Krauthammer (who agrees the "contract should have been stopped" for security reasons) should focus on how to "finesse" the effect the deal's inevitable demise will have on our relationship with friendly Arab nations like the UAE. ... Update: El Podito agrees. "The deal is dead." He suggests the White House can't afford to wait 45 days to find out for sure. ... Why not kill it today? It's a Friday. ... That would end the agony not just for the Republicans, but also for our relations with the Arabs. Better to take that diplomatic hit now (when there's plenty of distracting news) than have the controversy stay on boil for 45 more days of Arabic bad press and then have the UAE stiff-armed anyway in the end, no? ... But: Ledeen's finesse  of the deal seems better than Krauthammer's. ...  12:20 P.M.

All in the Family: Director/actor Rob Reiner has managed to get California voters to fund (through a 50 cent cigarette tax increase) what is in effect a huge taxpayer-financed political media slush fund for him and his liberal causes--and his consultants. The (improving) L.A. Times put the scandal on the front page, and L.A. Weekly's Bill Bradley has been dogging Reiner. ... [But Reiner's doing it for the "kids."  And the criticism is "the price of being a public figure"--ed. Well allright then.] ... 11:19 P.M.

Anti-Anti-Backlash Lash Lash: Whiners Unite! How annoying is it to be guilt-tripped as a racist by President Bush and his administration's suspiciously well-coordinated, 35%-convincing pushback on the Dubai ports deal? "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company," insinuated the President on Tuesday. "The only whiners left by next week will be the registered bigots," declares GOP organizer Grover Norquist. Hmmm. Wasn't it the left's traditional strategy--e.g.,when people raised doubts about the welfare system and its effect on work and family structure--to charge that legitimate worries were really disguised bigotry? It worked well for the Democrats, didn't it Grover? Voters love being called racists when they have legitimate concerns! Too bad Bush couldn't have made his accusation from the stage at Bob Jones University. ...

If you want to feel like whining, I recommend Daniel Engber's Explainer on what a port operator actually does:

It gets cargo containers off of ships and puts them onto trucks or trains. A port operator also provides other services to the shipping industry: It does the paperwork to get incoming shipments through customs and uses its computer system to help connect the goods with potential recipients. ...

Most operators invest in a computerized yard management system to help each trucker connect with his payload.  ... The port operator also handles personnel issues.

If we're afraid of bad guys sneaking something dangerous into the U.S., it sure seems like there are lots of opportunities for mischief if you can infiltrate the firm that does the paperwork and runs the computer system and handles the "personnel issues"! Is it comforting matter that "security" at American ports will still be "controlled by U.S. federal agencies led by the Coast Guard and the U.S. Customs and Border Control Agency ... ." Not if what you're worried about is a small cell of people looking for a way to get around the Coast Guard's security. Just having a port operator that is more easily approached by people who speak Arabic vastly increases the risk, at least the risk from Arab jihadists, no? That's why it was absurd for Condoleezza Rice to declare on Wednesday:

We have to maintain a principle that it doesn't matter where in the world one of these purchases is coming from.

Really? So it's perfectly all right if Iran, say, decides to go into the port operating business? Don't tell President Ahmadinejad. What about Palestine, with its Hamas-controlled government? A good business opportunity for them! Or North Korea? No need to worry about those half-dozen nukes--we have the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard handling security. Procedures are in place!

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