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Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Rats Desert Dubya's Dubai Ship (updated)

... ... Even leaving the Carlyle and Bechtel Boys aside, it gets better. Another "protege" of Baker's appears on the scene: Robert Zoellick, currently Deputy Secretary of State, but from 2001 to 2005, this country's Trade Representative in charge, largely, of setting up free trade agreements such as CAFTA around the world. I guess it was little noticed in 2004 when Zoellick signed a TIFA -- Trade and Investment Framework Agreement -- with the UAE, a first step in the negotiations with the Sheiks of Dubai toward a FTA, a Free Trade Agreement, negotiations for which are ongoing. In a speech in Jordan that year, Zoellick described the UAE as a "very positive partner for free trade in the region. ... ...
“Our Two Bobbies,” Lucian Truscott IV
(guest blogging on Digby)

It took them over two weeks to figure it all out. But just watch the rubber stamping rats run.

They should have watched the Democrats, who sized up this story in a New York minute. Senator Chuck Schumer has been the pied piper of the port story since the Republicans' Dubai debacle began.

Yesterday, Terror Guy, our anti-hero, collapsed in the name of commerce. We didn't know the half of it. But reading the article by Lucian Truscott IV on Digby makes it all so very clear.

Today, it's all rats off deck.

...That instinct for political survival is helping to stiffen the Congressional spine. Republicans have held a significant political advantage over Democrats on the issue of national security, offsetting Democratic strength on social policy. Given the uproar at home over the port deal and nervousness about the implications of eavesdropping without warrants, Republicans are worried about losing their edge. Democrats say they should be.

In a memorandum to Senate Democrats that quickly made its way to reporters, a pollster reported Wednesday that the opposition to the port proposal and uncertainty over Iraq have significantly eroded Republican advantages among voters when it comes to security concerns.

"With huge majorities opposing the president's proposal to sell control of U.S. ports to Dubai and the failure of the president's Iraq policy, Republicans' once-yawning advantage on security issues has been largely neutralized," said the pollster, Mark Mellman.

Suddenly, a Rebellion in the G.O.P. on a Signature Issue

"Suddenly, a Rebellion"?

The press is so slow.

Did I mention they're also lazy, refusing to step further into the story than their latest access press release?

"Suddenly, a Rebellion"?

Try, finally, a reaction, because it's taken the rubber stamping Republicans five years to figure out Terror Guy's "war on terror" stops where commerce is the connection.

But even their reaction is too little, too late, especially since the majority leader in the Senate, Bill I diagnose from videotape Frist, is blocking the deal, with Senator Suck Up (aka McCain) saying we should "trust" the president on the port deal.

"Surely his administration deserves the presumption that they would not sell our security short." - Senator John McCain

Yeah, John, and George didn't scuttle your campaign in South Carolina either.

Democrats' gut feeling about the Dubai port deal has led the uprising from the get go and that's the Republicans' real problem. Senator Schumer tried to attach an an amendment to a lobbying bill just yesterday to take the deal down. However, the rubber stamping Republicans who control Congress blocked it. So the people are left with the reality that the only ones leading on the Dubai port deal are the Democrats.

Democrats tried to press their advantage Wednesday in the Senate. Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York surprised Republicans with an amendment to a lobbying bill that would ban any company "wholly owned or controlled by any foreign government that recognized the Taliban" from managing port facilities. The company at issue, DP World of Dubai, fits that description.

Senate Republican leaders, trying to buy the administration some time on the port fight as their counterparts in the House deserted Mr. Bush, blocked a vote. But a showdown appeared inevitable.

"We know what the people of America think," said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate. "This is a very bad idea." ...

Meanwhile, the press misses the message, because they're only reading press releases put out by the president and his people and all the hacks in power, missing the beating heart at the center of the story. Access is everything, baby.

House Republicans know they're in the last throes of power, with Democrats having "neutralized" the only issue they had going for them. Let's say it again, Democrats now lead on national security, with the Republican Dubai deal exhibit A, the incompetence of George W. Bush exhibit B, with the Republicans controlling Congress exhibit C on Iraq, because they're not doing anything to change the dynamics in the war.

Rubber stamping Bill Frist knows they're in trouble over the port deal, so he can't let Schumer's amendment through, because it would prove what we already know. Frist and his rubber stampers are actually powerless because George W. Bush doesn't think he has to answer to anyone, since during his entire presidency the Republicans in Congress have not stood up to him once. Ready the veto pen, Republicans man the pails, we're going down.

If President Bush goes down on Dubai, his lame duck status will turn into a dead duck reality, with Republicans adrift from the ship, no leader in sight and 2008 staring them down on the horizon.

But first things first.

Democrats taking the lead as Terror Guy collapses, has brought all rubber stamping Republicans on deck in a desperate attempt to separate themselves from the boss. It's a last ditch effort to save their political lives for 2006.

We're watching the death of a presidency, with the rubber stamping Republicans looking on and trying to figure out how to save themselves.

Democrats helped bring about this shift in fortunes because they stood up and led on the Dubai port deal without looking around for approval. Democrats are in touch with the people's rage, they feel it, they know what to do about it.

The rubber stamping Republicans can only jump ship, grab on and ride the Democrats' message to safety. But what's left in their wake is a president with no one to lead. That's why Bill Frist is trying to save him. They've backed the boss so long that if he goes down, they all go down with him.

Seeing political death in the rear view mirror, Republicans are running like rats from the sinking ship. Baby, this isn't a rebellion, it's a suicide mission.

cross-posted at Taylor Marsh

UPDATE (11:03 a.m.): Senator John Warner just announced on the Senate floor that DP World will give up stake "in some U.S. ports," handing control over to a "U.S. entity." What U.S. entity? No one is saying yet, but could it be? Nah, that "U.S. entity" wouldn't be Halliburton, would it? Nah.

UPDATE II (11:11 a.m.): Here's the Washington Post "breaking news" story.