Maureen Dowd: GOP to W. – You’re Nuts!

You go, girl.

G.O.P. to W.: You’re Nuts!
Published: February 22, 2006

It’s enough to make you nostalgic for those gnarly union stevedores in “On the Waterfront,” the ones who hung up rats on hooks and took away Marlon Brando’s chance to be a contend-ah.

Maybe it’s corporate racial profiling, but I don’t want foreign companies, particularly ones with links to 9/11, running American ports.

What kind of empire are we if we have to outsource our coastline to a group of sheiks who don’t recognize Israel, in a country where money was laundered for the 9/11 attacks? And that let A. Q. Kahn, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, smuggle nuclear components through its port to Libya, North Korea and Iran?

It’s mind-boggling that President Bush ever agreed to let an alliance of seven emirs be in charge of six of our ports. Although, as usual, Incurious George didn’t even know about it until after the fact. (Neither did Rummy, even though he heads one of the agencies that green-lighted the deal.)

Same old pattern: a stupid and counterproductive national security decision is made in secret, blowing off checks and balances, and the president’s out of the loop.

Was W. too busy not calling Dick Cheney to find out why he shot a guy to not be involved in a critical decision about U.S. security? What is he waiting for — a presidential daily brief warning, “Bin Laden Determined to Attack U.S. Ports?”

Our ports are already nearly naked in terms of security. Only about 5 percent of the containers coming into the country are checked. And when the White House assures us that the Homeland Security Department will oversee security at the ports, is that supposed to make us sleep better? Not after the chuckleheaded Chertoff-and-Brownie show on Capitol Hill.

“Our borders are wide open,” said Jan Gadiel of 9/11 Families for a Secure America. “We don’t know who’s in our country right now, not a clue. And now they’re giving away our ports.” The “trust us” routine of W. and Dick Cheney is threadbare.

The more W. warned that he would veto legislation stopping this deal, the more lawmakers held press conferences to oppose it — even conservatives who had loyally supported W. on Iraq, the Patriot Act, torture and warrantless snooping.

Mr. Bush is hoist on his own petard. For four years, the White House has accused anyone in Congress or the press who defended civil liberties or questioned anything about the Iraq war of being soft on terrorism. Now, as Congress and the press turn that accusation back on the White House, Mr. Bush acts mystified by the orgy of xenophobia.

Lawmakers, many up for re-election, have learned well from Karl Rove. Playing the terror card works.

A bristly Bush said yesterday that scotching the deal would send “a terrible signal” to a worthy ally. He equated the “Great British” with the U.A.E. Well, maybe Britain in the 12th century.

Besides, the American people can be forgiven if they’re confused about what it means in the Arab world to be a U.S. ally. Is it a nation that helps us sometimes but also addicts us to oil and then jacks up the price, refuses to recognize Israel, denies women basic rights, tolerates radical anti-American clerics, looks the other way when its citizens burn down embassies and consulates over cartoons, and often turns a blind eye when it comes to hunting down terrorists in its midst?

In our past wars, America had specific countries to demonize. But now in the “global war on terror” — GWOT, as they call it — the enemy is a faceless commodity that the administration uses whenever it wants to win a political battle. When something like this happens, it’s no wonder the public does its own face transplant.

One of the real problems here is that this administration has run up such huge trade and tax-cut-and-spend budget deficits that we’re in hock to the Arabs and the Chinese to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. If they just converted their bonds into cash, they would own our ports and not have to merely rent them.

Just because the wealthy foreigners who own our debt can blackmail us with their economic leverage, does that mean we should expose our security assets to them as well?

As part of the lunatic White House defense, Dan Bartlett argued that “people are trying to drive wedges and make this to be a political issue.” But as the New Republic editor Peter Beinart pointed out in a recent column, W. has made the war on terror “one vast wedge issue” to divide the country.

Now, however, the president has pulled us together. We all pretty much agree: mitts off our ports.

The Discussion: 10 Comments

It looks like you and I agree on something domestic.

…did hell freeze over while I wasn’t looking? 😛

February 21, 2006 @ 10:07 pm | Comment

Actually, I’m not sure yet whether I agree with Dowd on this one. Maybe Bush has some excellent reason for entrusting our ports to the UAE (though if so, he hasn’t articulated it too well). I have to understand the issue a bit better. But Dowd sure makes her case with style.

February 21, 2006 @ 10:21 pm | Comment

Reds Under the Bed … Now the Muslims Are Taking Over! This is as pathetic as the recent American panic over Red China supposedly “controlling” the port facilities in Panama. In that case it was one of the big Hong Kong cartels – Hutchison, I think. The fact that Li Ka Shing operates infrastructure projects across the world (like our own cross city tunnel) was conveniently ignored. Why is it OK for American corporations to have business interests other countries, but not the other way round? This knee jerk business xenophobioa is yet another example of the continuing decline of America.

February 22, 2006 @ 4:22 am | Comment

You are all missing the point, which is:
Nationalism and capitalism/globalism cannot coexist for much longer.

Multinational corporations are less and less loyal to their country of origin. US security is compromised more and more by debt to other nations. People are less and less loyal to their native country than to the almighty dollar (hence nobody demands “made in the USA” anymore).

Could go on and on, but why bother…

February 22, 2006 @ 9:25 am | Comment

Hmm. Don’t quite share Smith’s fatalistic outlook, but I have to say that I don’t give a damn if the UAE owns our ports or not. They’re going to be on American soil, subject to American regulation and staffed by Americans regardless…or do we imagine that the UAE is going to import tens of thousands of sinister-looking men in keffiyas and dishdashas to run the ports? Whatever worthwhile security procedures the DHS gets around to implementing will apply to US ports regardless of who owns them.

I like reading Maureen’s columns, but I think she’s lost the plot on this one.

But, then, it didn’t bother me if Unocal was sold to the Chinese either, so perhaps I am simply slave to the idea of selling America off to foreigners a piece at a time (just to pre-empt the inevitable criticism).

February 22, 2006 @ 7:22 pm | Comment

My biggest problem with this deal is that I don’t believe the Bush administration has adequately assessed this deal. I mean, from what I understand they were supposed to have assessed this deal in 25 days???? No way. That’s not even enough time to do a financial assessment, let alone security.

The thing I think many people are over-looking here is that Dubai will not be in charge of security – they will be forced to comply with US laws and regulations (which could be scary enough).

I just think they need a little more time to consider this from all angles.

February 22, 2006 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

Well, Gordon, they made the deal in secret, the decision was made in the treasury department, which is headed by a fellow (John Snow) who used to be the CEO of a transit company that was sold to this Dubai company and there’s another Bush Administration connection that I can’t recall at the moment, and, oh yes, Dubai is a hotbed of smuggling…I put the link to that story in some other thread.

Plus there’s the general hypocrisy/hilarity of an Administration that’s made its bones crying “Terror! Terror! 9/11!” and then makes a deal like this with minimal oversight and seemingly little in the way of security safeguards.

Schadenfreude some? OH yeah…

February 23, 2006 @ 2:09 am | Comment

Frickin paranoia! Even paranoid China has now allowed foreigners to own port facilities in her efforts to join the global market … and she was universally praised for doing so. Now a company from a stable and allied country wants to buy an American port, and everyone is screaming their heads off? I’m not usually known as the voice of moderation, but steady on people! If this sale gets blocked, it’ll be nothing other than knee-jerk anti-arabism. It’ll also teach America’s allies that her friendship is worth nothing.

February 23, 2006 @ 2:14 am | Comment

Stable?? FSN9, though many of your points are well-put, I’m not sure that the UAE is a model of stability, from what I’ve been reading…

And again, it is the political cognitive dissonance that I find so amusing…

February 23, 2006 @ 2:22 am | Comment

Lisa: UAE NOT stable? I’d ask you what things you’ve been reading. Perhaps even suggest you visit the place. Or talk to someone who is from there.

February 23, 2006 @ 3:27 pm | Comment

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