Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Port = Left Side of the Ship ... or ... You Can't Spell Demogogue Without a "Demo"

I have come to the conclusion that, from a substantive point of view, the UAE port deal is probably not a bad deal. Politically, however, (and this is what counts to the Demos and MSM) it has been a disaster for the President.

To me, some of the more salient points in the dispute seem to be:

1) Everyone other than those mindless "independents" who make up CNN debate focus groups knows that the Democrats will never be ... and can never be ... to the right of Republicans on national security. To understand this, one need only be reminded of the directions that the parties are constantly being pulled by their respective bases. For instance, just look how the Demo base is mounting a primary challenge to Joe Lieberman, one of the few remaining sane Democrats on national security. Make no mistake: The Kossacks will never allow their party to be more conservative on national security than George Bush and Co. Never. Any suggestion to the contrary is pure fantasy, put out for election year consumption only. Indeed, the lefties so despise vigorous efforts to defend this nation that they can hardly bring themselves to mouth such a party line, even for their own political advantage.

2) On Sunday, Newt Gingrich made what I thought was an excellent point -- one that conservatives should well understand -- that the deal should be held to stricter scrutiny because the UAE company is owned by a government rather than a business. That is, the UAE government could very well be subject to political pressures that a private company would not necessarily be. Of course, this could turn out to be a positive, too, provided that the right pressures continue to be applied to the UAE.

3) As Mark pointed out in the thread below, the opposition to the ports deal is principally being driven by congressmen and senators with ties to labor, in particular longshoremen. Thus, we have now-MSM darling Rep. Peter King (R) teaming with his fellow New Yorker, Sen. Chuck Schumer. As we, and all CNN focus group members know, Sen. Schumer has been ever-vigilant in defending American interests and has supported the Bush Administration every step of the way in its efforts to fight jihadis worldwide. Ahem.

Note, too, that Schumer and Co. are now taking the position that all American ports should be run by American longshoremen. Sounds principled on the surface, except for the minor detail that our ports have been run by numerous foreign companies (including the British predecessor to the company at issue in the ports deal) for some time. The Clinton Administration was all for this stuff, too, provided that the Chinese got in on the action. You will recall that Schumer and Co. managed to look the other way on those deals, though.

4) The President's communications department is horrible. Dan Bartlett should have been fired before the last election and replaced with me. Well, I didn't apply, but still ... he should have been replaced with some one as good as me. Never mind. You get the point. The Bush Administration has done a consistently horrible job at explaining itself as various crises have evolved. Bartlett and Co. constantly are behind the Administration's critics in defining issues, and they remain on the defensive every time that events surge. That the Bush Administration did not understand that the Demo(gogue)crats would be in full election year attack mode over this deal is inexplicable.

This deal presents a golden opportunity to explain again the identity and nature of our enemies -- Radical Islamists -- while contrasting them with our allies, including our Arab allies. The UAE is strateglically positioned to continue to aid our efforts in Iraq while also putting pressure on Iran. Meanwhile, the deal offers us an opportunity to rally parts of the Arab world to help us in taking on Radical Islamists. But are Dan Bartlett and Co. up to it? I very seriously doubt it. Like most PR battles in the Bush Adminstration, this one will likely be left to conservative pundits and talk radio.

Speaking of which, Charles Krauthammer wrote an excellent column on the port debate. Krauthammer makes the point that even hypocrites can be right, and he further proposes a potential solution for the Bush Administration. Still, I think the money quote in the piece is the following:
... If a citizen of the UAE walked into an airport in full burnoose and flowing robes, speaking only Arabic, Democrats would be deeply offended, and might even sue, if the security people were to give him any more scrutiny than they would to my sweet 84-year-old mother.

Democrats loudly denounce any thought of racial profiling. But when that same Arab, attired in business suit and MBA, and with a good record running ports in 15 countries, buys [a company that operates certain U.S. ports], Democrats howl at the very idea of allowing Arabs to run our ports. ...
Remember: When the hypocrites are scoring political points, it must be an election year.