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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bush’s Weird Counteroffensive on Ports

You’d think the administration would just conduct a strategic retreat, admit it didn’t handle this too well, and agree to a more extended and less secret review of the security issues involved in the takeover of operations at six major U.S. ports by a company from Dubai. And maybe it will soon execute one of those classic Bush non-acknowledged flip-flops (see Department of Homeland Security, Intelligence Reform, Campaign Finance Reform, etc., etc.) and do just that.But for the moment, Bush is hanging tough, arguing that the criticism of this decision represents anti-Arab ethnic profiling, and actually threatening his first-ever presidential veto of any legislation that might overturn the Dubai port takeover.Aside from the rich irony of this line of argument from a president who has deliberately exploited stereotypes of Arabs in conflating the 9/11 attackers with Iraqis, there’s the little problem that Bush is avoiding the actual arguments of his critics. Today the DLC weighed in with a statement that stressed the simple if characteristic refusal of the administration to explain the process that led to its decision about port operations, and also reminded readers of the blind spot the Bushies have always exhibited towards port security. Others, including Matt Yglesias, emphasized the fact that the Dubai company at issue is essentially owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates–a fact that has also led Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Robert Menendez to introduce legislation focusing on state sponsorship of port operators, not their ethnicity.But I think Josh Marshall best described the absurdity of this particular president making a key homeland security decision based on an exquisite sensitivity to overseas opinion:

Even if he’s right on the merits, it just doesn’t work from a president who makes his political coin of the realm not caring what anybody else thinks or even what the law might be so long as security is even conceivably at stake.


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