Wanna Buy a Port?

Wanna Buy a Port? By Harold Meyerson

This is a uniquely American value. Other nations designate certain industries as too strategic to ship abroad or sell to foreign interests. Only in the United States is the corporation answerable only to its shareholders — not to its employees, its host communities, its home nation.

Republican Port Politics By Robert D. Novak

The rest of the world may wonder how a relatively routine commercial transaction turned Republican leaders against their president. Frank McKenna, the Canadian ambassador, who is leaving Washington this week, has cracked the code by appreciating the existence of two U.S. governments, one executive and the other legislative. That system requires more presidential finesse than was displayed in handling the Dubai contract.

Lesson on the Perils of Secrecy By E. J. Dionne Jr.

Republicans and conservatives would be aghast at the idea of our government owning a company that operated so many of our ports. That would be — just imagine! — socialism. But Dubai Ports World is, well, a socialist operation, a state-owned company in the United Arab Emirates. Why is it bad for the federal government to own our port operations, but okay for a foreign government? …

President Bush was his tough, swaggering self on Tuesday when he threatened to veto any bill that would scuttle the port company takeover. “They ought to look at the facts and understand the consequences of what they’re going to do,” Bush said.

But 24 hours later, as opposition to the deal built, White House spokesman Scott McClellan — boy, I don’t envy him his job these days — said a president whose main calling card is his devotion to keeping our nation secure hadn’t paid any attention to this issue until the past “several days.” In other words, a subject Bush displayed such passion about the day before was also a subject he had just learned about. Does this happen often? …

Are some opponents of this deal motivated by xenophobia? Of course, and xenophobia is both wrong and dangerous. But it’s also wrong to dismiss every Democrat and every Republican who has raised questions about this deal — i.e., most members of both parties — as either a bigot or an opportunist.

On the contrary, a process carried out in such secrecy and with so little accountability deserves to be the subject of controversy. …

Bush insisted that the deal would leave our ports safe. “People don’t need to worry about security,” he said. But many people in both parties are worried because they no longer take the administration’s claims at face value. That, too, is progress.

ABQjournal: President’s Men Leave Him in the Lurch Again

Even people who think there is no rational basis for fear about tossing the keys to six major ports to the United Arab Emirates might find this scary: They may have known about the deal before President Bush.

The day after growing congressional support for blocking the deal prompted a “bring it on” response from the commander-in-chief, his spokesman conceded that Bush hadn’t known about the port takeover until the ships hit the fan. The matter did not rise to the presidential level, Scott McClellan told reporters.

It’s understandable that the first MBA president delegates details, but did his subordinates not realize the containerized cargo shipful of controversy that was about to explode? …

Merits of the port deal aside, Bush ought to consider replacing his inner circle with advisers from the UAE. Could they be any worse?

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