Once again the Bush Administration has successfully shifted the ground of debate in a key controversy, thus sparing the president from taking a fatal hit on his leadership flank.
As damaging as the Dubai Port controversy is, the situation has moved from ‘critical’ to ‘serious’ by a subtle shifting of the ground for debate from the real issue of his leadership to the question of the Dubai-based DP World contract itself. Scott McClellan now perfunctorily casts the issue in terms of “reassuring congress and the American people” about the transaction.
There are four critical issues that have been virtually ignored by the press and the public: the incompetence, lying, detachment and corruption revealed by this deal.
Incompetence is reflected when the president raises his hand to protect his face with one of his favorite rhetorical techniques: argumentis ad ignoramus: “I found out about this deal at the same time you did…” Bush told reporters in a rare news conference held on Air Force One on 02.21.06. This next point is a toss-up between the “lying” category or the “incompetence” category. But the lying one is long, so I am plugging it in this paragraph. The Bushniks in the White House Kremlin can’t even get their stories straight. On the one hand, we are told that the Committee on Foreign Investment was unanimous in it’s recommendation to move forward with the deal. On the other hand, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, a member of the Committee, told a press briefing on 02.22.06 that he didn’t know anything about it!
QUESTION: Are you confident that any problems with security — from what you know, are you confident that any problems with security would not be greater with a UAE company running this than an American company?
RUMSFELD: I am reluctant to make judgments based on the minimal amount of information I have because I just heard about this over the weekend.
Lying. Despite the fact that he never reviewed the deal, nor read the recommendation, nor even KNEW about it until hours before, on 02.22.06, Bush was threatening a veto of any legislation that would block the deal and was reassuring congress and America that if the deal had even the remotest possibility of compromising the security of the nation that he would be supporting it. I am never as reassured as when I am told that everything is taken care of in a document that the one providing the reassurance admits he hasn’t read…
Scott McClellan who has, of late, taken to intoning from his highly controlled sphincter muscles, acts as if this controversy is just a silly little oversight--like forgetting to send out legal notices of Aunt Hattie’s Estate Settlement to the rest of the family. In his press briefing of 02.27.06, McClellan intones:
Our interest is in making sure that congress has a better understanding of these transactions…we recognize that congress wants to look at the transaction and get additional facts, and that’s important too… I want to say that “It’s really White of You, Scott…”, but, In fact, the White House only cares about the political ass-kicking they have gotten, and they really don’t care about congress. The only time the Bush White House cares about congress is when congress gets in the way of White House agenda. And we all know that this congress gets in the way of the White House so rarely that president Bush has not used his veto power ONCE in SIX years!
Detachment. Remember when Bush took exception to the December 19, 2005 Newsweek Cover? The cover graphic shows Bush in a bubble floating over the Header: Bush’s World. “I don’t live in a bubble…” he commented defensively at a photo op after Newsweek hit the stands. I believe that was about the time Bush made a seasonal round of travel by Presidential Bubble-Jet to deliver speeches in aircraft hangers on military bases before the only audience he is guaranteed to outrank. The DP World deal raises the bubble issue anew. On 02.22.06, Reuters reported …Surprised by a backlash from Bush's own Republican Party, the White House said it erred in not explaining the deal to Congress where members have decried the sale of the company to a Dubai-based firm as a risk to U.S. security. Surprised? It makes me wonder how many OTHER deals have been done like this. Apparently this is standard operating procedure for the Bushniks. There has been considerable talk about this being “blowback” from his own 6 year subtext of the Evil Muslim Empire vs Christian America and the result is both ironic and predictable. Bush’s famous detachment is starkly revealed.
Corruption. It turns out that this deal was part of the good old boys network. That is why it didn’t need congressional oversight. We should rest assured because Treasury Secretary Snow, assures us that the deal is good for America. John Snow was the CEO of CSX when he was appointed Treasury Secretary on Feb. 7, 2003. CSX was subsequently purchased by DB World. David Sanborn, who was appointed by Bush to be the new administrator of the Maritime Administration was an executive with CSX and, then, a senior Dubai Ports World executive before coming on board the bush administration. Sanborn worked as Dubai Ports World's director of operations for Europe and Latin America. These connections are explored in detail in BuzzFlash.com
I only hope in the next few days that the mainstream media and the Democrats hold Bush accountable for his failure of competent and moral leadership.