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Friday, February 24, 2006

Saving Face for Bushie

President Bush at a cabinet meeting yesterday:
Bush at cabinet meeting: "And so people don't need to worry about security. This deal wouldn't go forward if we were concerned about the security for the United States of America."
And in this morning's newswire reports from the AP, the UAE/Dubai-owned port corporation has taken the face-saving step for Bushie:
A United Arab Emirates company has volunteered to postpone its takeover of significant operations at six major U.S. seaports, giving the White House more time to convince skeptical lawmakers the deal poses no increased risks from terrorism.

The surprise concession late Thursday cools the standoff building between the Congress and President Bush over his administration's previous approval of the deal. In early reaction, lawmakers praised the temporary hold. But some critics pressed anew for an intensive examination of the deal's risks.
I'd like to think that this will be some sort of lesson learned by this White House, that they need to do their homework on things up front instead of after-the-fact, that transparency is always preferable to secrecy in matters which the American people have a substantial interest, that Congress has the obligation to provide some oversight rather than just be ignored or stonewalled.

But I'm sure not going to hold my breath that they've learned anything other than a petulant President is no fun.

At least he finally made good on his promise to be a uniter not a divider: Americans across the political spectrum are united in not trusting that the President actually did the work on this port deal. Perhaps because the WH is now insisting that the President didn't know anything about the deal at all until the press started asking about it. That Clueless excuse is a political flop, isn't it?

And to all those conservatives who have asked questions about this deal, welcome to the "you are unpatriotic" club. How's it feel to know that your President thinks you ought to just keep your mouth shut and agree with him -- or have your patriotism and love of country questioned by your own government if you don't fall in their line?

Heckuva job, Bushie!

UPDATE: Mark Kleiman raises an important question today that ought to have a clear answer, but apparently does not: who is actually running port security in this country? The fact that current and former Bush Administration officials aren't coming up with the same answer is more than a little troubling, don't you think?

You know, the more I look at the state of port security in this country, the more I'm glad that I don't live anywhere near a major port. Has any real work been done on this since 9/11? Any readers out there with experience in this issue -- please chime in, because I'm interested in some answers on this from people with on-the-ground observations and real world experience. I've had enough of the political talking heads, what I'd like is to hear from real people who have done some real work on this and talk about what has been and what still needs to be done.

UPDATE #2: Big kudos to Prof. Juan Cole for his appearance on CNN this morning. Great stuff. If you haven't read his blog, please take a moment to go over and take a peek. Some very scary stuff on Iraq this morning, but it is information we ought to all be paying attention to -- and contemplating -- regularly.

And while we're talking about the unrest in Iraq (and elsewhere, to be honest) I just wanted to take a moment to tell our readers in uniform to stay safe and keep your head down. I got an e-mail from a friend of mine currently stationed in Afghanistan, about some news of another mutual acquaintence currently in Baghdad, and I'm keeping them and everyone else in uniform in my prayers and thoughts today. It's a very volatile time, and some incredibly decent folks are in harms way (in and out of uniform, because our diplomatic staff and aide workers are just as much on the front lines as well). Just stay safe, folks -- wanted to let you know I'm thinking about all of you today.