Skip to comments.Bush port defiance fuels bipartisan anger
Posted on 02/22/2006 2:41:12 PM PST by iPod Shuffle
Posted on Wed, Feb. 22, 2006
Bush port defiance fuels bipartisan anger
WASHINGTON - President Bush's marquee issue, the war on terror, is being turned against him by Democrats and rebelling members of his own party in an election-year dustup over a deal that allows an Arab company to manage major U.S. ports.
People in both parties are suggesting it's another case of Bush seeming to be tone deaf to controversy - on top of government eavesdropping, Katrina recovery and Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident.
The storm is forcing the president to choose between losing face with the Arab world and embarking on what would be his first veto battle with the GOP-led Congress. And it has enabled Democrats to seemingly outflank him on a key GOP issue: national security.
Has Bush lost his way politically - or at least his touch?
"In regards to selling American ports to the United Arab Emirates, not just NO - but HELL NO," conservative Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., wrote Bush in a terse letter on Wednesday that she also posted on her Web site.
No matter that no American port is actually being sold, Bush faces a spreading rebellion among Republicans, Democrats and port-state governors.
"I think somebody dropped the ball. Information should have flowed more freely and more quickly up into the White House. I think it has been mishandled in terms of coming forward with adequate information," said Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y.
At issue: Bush's strong defense of an arrangement that would put a government-owned United Arab Emirates company in charge of major shipping operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.
The deal transferring port management from a British firm to Dubai Ports World has already been approved by both companies and an administration review panel.
Despite Bush's assertion that UAE has been one of the most helpful Arab countries in the war on terror, both Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois threatened legislation to put the deal on hold. Bush, in turn, vowed to cast his first veto - if necessary - to stop any such attempt.
"It's a strange thing for Bush to have slipped into, given the savvy you expected from this administration, with a vice president who spent over a decade on Capitol Hill," said Princeton University political scientist Fred Greenstein. "It seems as if his people would have seen that there was potential for trouble, and at least done their homework on the Hill."
Although a veto showdown could still be avoided, port-deal opponents were optimistic they could muster the two-thirds majorities needed to override one. "This deal doesn't pass the national security test. I think it is a mistake," said Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., chairman of a House subcommittee on terrorism threats.
Bush learned about the arrangement himself only in recent days amid increasing news coverage, said presidential spokesman Scott McClellan.
While Bush had struck a defiant tone on Tuesday in back-to-back sessions with reporters on Air Force One and outside the White House, McClellan on Wednesday acknowledged Congress should have been briefed earlier "given all the attention that has been focused on this and given the fact that it has been mischaracterized."
The phrase "tone deaf" to describe Bush's interaction with Congress was uttered by lawmakers as politically different as Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joseph Biden, D-Del.
The Dubai Ports deal "is not a national security issue," suggested GOP consultant Rich Galen. "It is an issue of this administration having a continuing problem with understanding how these things will play in the public's mind and not taking steps to set the stage so these things don't come as a shock and are presented in their worst possible light."
With Bush's ratings stuck at about 40 percent, the incident is one more major distraction to his efforts to focus on his second-term domestic agenda.
Syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham was among the conservatives criticizing the deal, asking on her Wednesday program, "How do we know people they're hiring are passing background checks?"
The dispute brought to mind a 1999 flap when conservatives admonished the Clinton administration for acquiescing on Panama's awarding of a contract to a China company, Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., to run ports at both ends of the Panama Canal.
But then, almost all the criticism was from Republicans. Now, it's bipartisan.
"I think there are certain things you have to be really worried about. And one of them is port safety," said Robert O. Boorstein, a senior national security aide in the Clinton White House.
"You have to call it an incredible tin ear that this administration could do that, with nobody stopping and saying, `excuse me?' said Boorstein, now with the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.
The AP is drooling over this. They know that conservatives (and rightly so) are angry.
"tone deaf to controversy - on top of government eavesdropping, Katrina recovery and Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident."
The public thinks those so-called examples of controversy (i.e. blame Bush) are a joke.
Bush's numbers will sink, his agenda will lie in ruins, and the GOP will lose Congress if he doesn't realize that this is a loser idea.
The truth...Chuck Schmuck and King Rino wanted more power over who determines control over the transfer (this agency that approved the takeover was created by the CONGRESS) than they are constitutionally allowed..thus the presidential veto threat.
Please how about them getting the pro's of this out. How about the consequences of nixing the deals need to be discussed. The Bush agenda is not in ruins
From what I am reading this deal was made 5 months ago and the Dems were all for it then, they even had input in the deal. Now all of a sudden they are screaming.
Mr Bush may even be right in this deal but he is surely handling it badly. He should come out and let everyone know that this deal is 5 months old and that Dems helped make it.
Problem is, the AP and the rest of the MSM have never told the truth about anything... yet the Sheeple will continue to follow...
I was originally against this but after hearing Rush's take yesterday I won't lose any sleep if it happens.
As a Bush supporter in most areas I recognize that the President is taking the side of two foreign owned companies against America. This is treason and he should be impeached.
No foreign owned company should be allowed to have office space inside of our ports.
I will vote democrat if the republicans refuse to side with our country.
Sorry. It seems that Bush has overblown the terrorist threat to this country. He knows we really have nothing to worry about here. If he were really concerned he would be performing better on border security and on port security. The WOT is over.
Yep. Had Cheney's "shooting victim" taken another turn for the worse, this story would not even be on the radar. This is just the latest "crisis at the WH" for the presstitutes and 'rats. As to the GOPers that took the bait, suckers...
It is all about perceptions. Because these ports weren't American soil to begin with (so to speak--there is no transfer of sovereignty involved). This was a sale by a British firm to a UAE firm. Other firms looked into it but didn't want to pay the $. As it currently stands, to me this looks like one big overreaction.
That's politics. This is about National security. Bush has come out against National security.
I was against Clinton for doing the same thing with China working in our ports and I am against Bush for the same reason. America comes before any political party.
If there is some special justification for allowing what has been described as a terrorist nation to take over the management of our major ports then the Bush administration had better be explaining it to the key people who matter.
If he does not this will give the Democrats an issue for' 08 that could put them back into the White House and Congress.
I realize there are many things done in the world between even enemy nations that are based on a bigger picture than expediency. But there are questions that should be answered.
1. Is the UAE a terrorists nation?
2 Bush says the UAE has changed. All of them?
3. Why do we have to hire Third World nations to manage anything for us so important as the operation of our ports?
4. the UAE seem unable to manage themselves. It is not a country any American would want to live in. By what standards do they operate businesses?
Yes, I can see hiring Third World people to pick cotton, but to manage our major seaports?
This will blow over like Cheney's super secret hunting murder attempt.
Steady as we go. These intended consequences are always interesting to ponder.
It's the "unintended" ones that add the spice of life.
Seems Malkin coined the term "arm-chair first responders" for Katrina...she's on after burners on this UAE port deal and leaving a wake of sputtering flabbergasted mouth breathers clutching their hearts.
Let's see what ol' "Tone-Deaf George" will do next.
I figure this is about a deal made with dubai being right at the straits of hormuz. I'd trust President Bush to do what's best for our troops before any political poseur on the hill.
Whoa, hoss! The DemWits would be much worse. This is a family matter, and the MSM ain't family. We can handle this debate ourselves as we handled Miers. Bush is our horse, and he knows our voice. Under the Demoncrats, we have no horse, much less an attended voice.
I wish we could put some of these armchair warriors in charge of the country for a day, since they seem to think they can do a much better job at running it than Bush.
OK. How 'bout putting Frist in charge for a few days?
Gonna peel off and listen to Hugh Hewitt interview the head of the US Coast Guard on Port Security, Adm. Bone (sp?).
The Admiral sounds like he knows what he's talking about!!!!?
UAE has been a friend of the United States lately under the Sheikh but what happens if he gets killed? Will the next ruler be just as friendly? The UAE's status with the USA is just a heartbeat away from changing. Look what happened to Iran after the Shaw was gone.
While I'm at it, why should ANY foreign country be running our ports, including China? Our government wants to intrude into every little detail of States and individuals but wants no responsibility for our ports or borders? What gives?
Can't we just give the UAE some F-16s and a thank you card and call it good? I support much of what President Bush has done but why is he so down on our sovereignty?
I consider nothing more important than the war on "radical" Islam.
Our country and our lives hang in the balance.
Giving the Dems an issue to attack with on this, and which a vast majority of Americans oppose, is politically stupid, will bring the Dems to power, and will jeopardize the war effort.
It is politcally stupid and not worth a veto.
Hugh's got ol' Frank Gaffney in the warm up circle.
Now there's a guy who's not exactly "wishy washy".
Should be a "fun" thing to hear.
This President brought Hamas to power.
I don't trust his judgment any more.
There been a ton of people here posting today saying the UAE was a good place to live. This isnt Libya
What? Everyone needs to take the day off tomorrow not watch any news and perhaps chill with old prescription drugs they havent used up. President Bush didnt bring Hamas to power. Lets not all go off the deep end
The left will not be allowed to give hamas legitimacy on the world stage like they did arafat. Hamas is on borrowed time like the iranian and syrian govt.
Don't count on it.
Oh, please, what utter nonsense. I'm against the port deal also, but I'm able to do so without completely falling off the edge of rationality, as you seem to have done.
Probably OK, but sure will kick up a stink.
Not only will it blow over, there will be praise for the process that arrived at this decision.
That's the story of next week. The process that was undertaken will be revealed. It will be shown to be thorough, tough, insistent on maximum safety and probably superior to similar processes used by the Clinton administration.
It's not about the result. It's about the process taken to reach the result. If the process is seen to be excellent, the result will be embraced by everyone but the Democrats, and they will look bad yet again and weak on terror.
When Israel wanted to bar Hamas from the elections, Bush sent Rice to say "no", they will participate.
Let's not rewrite history.
Well not that bad.
Yeah, he thought Miers would blow over, too.
Update: The Rear Admiral reminded Hugh Hewitt that the guys who work our ports are our American Longshoremen...the mighty all American dockworkers...a more patriotic bunch you cannot find.
Suggesting maybe a little over-reaction?
Here I was all set to watch our dis-enchanted former "loyalists" throw out the baby with the wash water.
Do you have a problem with Congressional review? There's no rush, is there?
Well said. For all the thousands of posts on the subject, you said it best. Succinct and on target.
It is politcally stupid and not worth a veto.
....well, it will get veto'd cause when you follow the MONEY you will see Daddy Bush and Carlucci of Carlyl Group sold part of CSX to the Dubai crew and they always get their money...that's why they love Bubba, he was so good to them in Mena AR after taking his cut for all the drug smuggling for the CIA and BushI pals...
always about the money...
Just as we cannot possibly win in Iraq without help from indigenous Arab allies, so too the UAE would be much more capable than the British (or us) of identifying and interdicting terrorist plots of the wacko-militant-Jihadist-fundamentalist-we-already-have-a-Constitution-it's-the-Koran minority members of their own culture aimed at ports where Black Gold & Texas Tea are unloaded for American addicts to consume.
The UAE has vital, FINANCIAL & SURVIVAL interests at stake in safely delivering the product and continuing to live life that completely transcend whole multitudes of virgins promised to those bent on dying sooner rather than later for Allah...