More Political Tone Deafness From The Bush Administration

The Bush Administration has once again stepped on its own feet with the politically tone-deaf decision to let a Middle Eastern company run several major US ports. Even if the company is not a threat to US security, the decision was still politically tone-deaf. It makes the Bush Administration look weak on national security and even Republican governors have been forced to publicly castigate the Administration.

Someone in the Administration should have questioned this, and the old assumptions that a back-room deal won’t see the light have day haven’t been true in many years. Yes, Dubai Ports World could be perfectly legitimate and this whole affair may be a smear on them through guilt by geographical location. In fact, it probably is. However, the Administration should have seen this coming and either had a plan in place to deal with the PR fallout and defend the decision or stopped the deal in its tracks.

For all the talk of how the Administration is this brutally efficient political machine that stifles all opposition, the numerous times when it’s been caught utterly defenseless in a major PR stumble seem to indicate quite the opposite. If anything, the Bush Administration’s lackluster PR and political communication skills have hurt them more than nearly anything else. Karl Rove may be a genius when it comes to retail politics, but the Bush Administration has never had the political skills of the Clinton war room.

UPDATE: And now Hotline is stating that Bush is threatening a veto of any legislation stopping the sale. This is an unbelievably, phenomenally, incredibly stupid move as it alienates just about everyone and offers absolutely no benefit to Bush – unless there’s some kind of major quid pro quo in exchange for this deal.

When you’re under attack from all sides, the very last thing you should do is paint a huge bulls-eye right on your ass – which is precisely what Bush seems to be doing at the moment.

8 thoughts on “More Political Tone Deafness From The Bush Administration

  1. Dubai is in the Middle East, but it’s a city of capitalism, not fanaticism. While this may look bad at first glance, it’s probably no more dangerous than handing over control of our ports to a company based out of Hong Kong or Singapore. Dubai’s corporate life is dominated by Aussie and British expatriates anyway; the sheiks are mere figureheads, and more interested in making tons of money than delivering tons of explosives.

    That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be watching these ports like hawks, however…

    (Dubai is also one of the fastest growing cities in the world; there are currently more cranes in Dubai than anywhere else on the planet. They’re trying to build a Manhattan overnight, including a building that, when complete, will be the largest in the world… talk about an edifice complex… at least it’s the sort of Arab inferiority complex that the rest of the world can live with!)

  2. What the stupidity of the White House has just done is place the entire Congressional GOP in jeopardy. Congress has to oppose this deal becuase Americans are up in arms over it. Now this gives the Dems an opportunity to oppose this on grounds of National Security, work in conjunction with the GOP in passing legislation for the betterment of Homeland Security. When the President vetoes it, the Congress inlcduing the GOP will be left with no choice and rightly so, to override the Presiodents veto. They will be doing the right thing, but will be handing a major victory on the issue to the Dems.

    I am convinced now, Bush the conservative never existed……

  3. This could all be a ploy to allow the rest of the Republican Party to show its “independence” from the Bush administration. Bob Ehrlich, Bill Frist and every other ambitious Republican pols finally get to make headlines distancing themselves from an unpopular President supporting an incredibly unpopular initiative. Rove knows that Bush is radioactive, and that the robotic loyalty of the GOP faithful in Congress makes Republicans like Mark Kennedy and Michael Steele radioactive by proxy. What better way for Rove/Bush to take one for the team in ’06 than being the fall guy for a pointless and symbollic gesture that allows the soldiers a grandstanding furlough from their previously sacrosanct oath of loyalty to their leader?

    Considering how rarely Republicans stand up to their boss these days, those who stand up to him here will be lavished with praise and media coverage for at least a week. Suddenly, Bob Ehrlich, Bill Frist, and George Pataki see a rise in their favorability ratings while Rove/Bush wait in the woods to lay their next “the world changed on 9-11” moment that will make us all forget about his steadfast support of allowing not only foreigners, but Arabs (!), to control American ports. It’s a win-win for the R’s. Rove is a genius.

  4. I would like to believe that there is some genius behind all this. I just don’t. The “paint a huge bulls-eye” comment seems a more accurate in this situation.

  5. Mark,

    The idea that this is si some Karl Rove orchestrated event is ludicrous. Fact is the President has proven once again, he is no true conservative. I know few conservatives who still support him. The damage he is doing to our cause is enormous.

  6. Conservative “non-support” for George Bush matters not all now that he’s been re-elected to a second four-year term. The beauty (for the GOP) of this move is that it allows vulnerable Republican Governors, worried Republican Congresscritters, and Republican Presidential aspirants to create distance between themselves and Bush. This is all about Rove/Bush taking one for the Team GOP in November.

  7. I really don’t think that there’s any major political calculus to this at all. The Bush team is, quite frankly, not that Machiavellian. However, nor are they stupid, and shooting yourself in the foot this badly on purpose is not a sane political strategy.

    Nope, this one was a screwup, plain and simple, and now Bush is caught with his pants around his ankles because of a fundamantal failure to lead events rather than be led by them.

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