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The signs of impending rebellion have been around for a while – Harriet Miers, stem cells, the election of a slightly more moderate House Majority Leader – but with less than nine months to the November elections, Congress is demonstrating that it’s had enough of President Bush. What’s better – they’re being joined by Democrats and, oh yeah, everyone is using the Bush re-elect message – tough on terror – to get ahead and criticize a White House-sanctioned deal to sell control of six U.S. ports to a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

This is why you gotta love politicians. The 535 folks in Congress figure that if Bush can win by being tough on terror so can they. That is, after all, the issue that consistently makes the presidents’ poll numbers rise. So they’re beating up on the UAE which, well, isn’t as bad as everyone says but isn’t as good – or as helpful in the so-called “war” on terror – as they’d like the U.S. and its allies to think.

The Congressional objections are racist, of course. But what do you expect from a Republican party that welcomes a woman who calls Arabs “rag heads” and justifies her “joke” as retaliation for the World Trade Center bombings? The Congressional objections are centered, to some extent, on security. Which isn’t as silly as it sounds. Listening to President Bush talk about how the deal had been thoroughly vetted makes you wonder how this one decision by the administration is going to be a step away from everything else: A long-planned but thoroughly mismanaged invasion, a horribly bungled reaction to a weather emergency, a “drug benefit” program that landed hundreds of very ill people in hospital, stranded without their medication, or the hope that democracy would bring a U.S.-friendly administration to Palestine. This is the gang that can’t shoot straight – literally.

The port deal is a warm-up, I suspect. Congress has been looking askance at the administration’s insistence that its warrant-less spying is legitimate. It’s impatient with the insistence that taxes be cut and cut again. And one thing is clear: This president isn’t playing to his base of conservative supporters; he’s just doing what he wants to do when he wants to do it, citing his “duty” to protect the American people. This is a president who runs by what he thinks is right or what he believes should happen: Iraqis should welcome American troops and rise to overthrow a malevolent dictator, the levees in New Orleans should hold, the implementation of a prescription drug plan ought to go smoothly and Palestinians shouldn’t elect terrorists to run their country. That’s wishful thinking on Bush’s part, of course. But here’s something that’s not wishful thinking, something the administration has consistently supported: The idea of letting large corporations do as they wish. That’s all that’s guiding President Bush’s decision to support this sale.

The bigger, more interesting issue at the root of the debate over who owns ports – and by the way, these are busy East Coast ports but nothing like what we’ve got out here in California which serves traffic to Asia – is the role that large multi-national corporations are playing in global commerce. We have been accustomed to thinking that large multi-nationals corporation are headquartered in this country and run by people like us; that will increasingly not be the case. Which makes the administration’s pro-business stand so very disturbing on so many different levels. It’s too much to ask Congress to understand that aspect of U.S. economic and foreign policy but it shouldn’t too much to expect the administration – which is supposed to lead in these areas – to come up with a thoughtful response that shows they at least understand the issues at play here.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:21 AM | Permalink

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