Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Selling the ports: the local takes

It may be a big national issue with more than enough to read from the big boys, but some of the local guys have interesting points of view on the port deal.

Joe Guarino got on the issue the same day Director of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff dropped the story on the Sunday morning TV talk circuit. He doesn't think much of the deal as presented by our D of HLS.

David Boyd has two posts on the topic. One questions whether Democrats and the left can argue against the sale without being accused of profiling foreigners. The other raises serious doubts about whether GW Bush stands on any solid ground if he vetoes congressional legislation that stops the deal.

Sam Hieb comes to some conclusions about prospects of political battle after linking to the NY Times story on the from Dubai with love saga. He predicts Bush will fight to get the deal through even if he has to face down conservatives and other Republicans.

Ed Cone provides a variety of links covering the Rumsfeld connection and the veto possibility. He also links to an article that mentions the historical tie between protectionism and racism in America.

Turning to the airwaves, Allen Handleman had a good segment on his FM Talk 101.1 show this afternoon. No security experts or bonified talking heads were needed. The portion I heard contained nothing but even-handed and reasonable discussion between Handleman and his callers. The show continues to impress me.

I'm a bit torn on the issue. I think this story started rolling much faster than the Bush administration anticipated. It has to be explained why the deal will not be a security risk to not only his base, but also to what I think is a signficant number of Americans who would like to love Bush a little more while they still contribute to his negative performance ratings. There's also a chance to engage opponents in reasonable discussion.

However, this is not all on Bush. Democrat and Republican opponents must make a case that the sale of the port to a UAE-based company compromises national security. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats can avoid stereotyping Arab businesses in making its case. Republicans will have to prove they possess surperior wisdom to Bush on matters of national security. A tall order, I think.

I appreciate the story because it has plenty of the elements of political theater. (Have John McCain or Joe Biden found a microphone or reporter yet?) Part of it is a struggle between the legislative and executive branches and between the executive branch and state governments. It also has yet to be determined if the issue becomes more political or if it is a security concern deserving of the highest priority. Finally, I think the American public is out there looking at both sides of the issue. It is fascinating watching serious issues of national security having to navigate the stormy waters of free poltical debate.


Anonymous Brent said...

This is just another example of thid president talking out of both sides of his mouth. He waves 9/11 around like his response is a crowning achievement. Then he goes and does stuff like this. While it may be pretty inocent and no securiy threat at all, the mere appearance is enough to make Americans uneasy. It makes it look like we're playing directly into the terrorists' hands. Is there not an American-based company that could handle this?

The arab company won't be able to win either. The first thing that slips by will call into question their loyalty to protecting America.

It's probably more about appearance than it is about anything else. But somehow it does not give me compfort when Bush says his people have researched thee matter and it's perfectly safe. The department of homeland security is not the greatest brain trust in the world. And their evaluation of threats does not seem to be the best either.

Anonymous Glenn said...

Brent, I disagree with your point that Bush is talking out of both sides of his mouth. I think a solid case can be made that he has been a straight shooter in laying out his philosophy on security.

I'm not jumping to any conclusions on this port deal. I don't understand why Bush would allow Chertoff to bring up out of the blue. It's certainly put him in a tough position. I also don't blame you for being discomforted by Bush's assertion that everything's alright. This is something big and complicated for the public to swallow.


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