Now that the Dubai ports crisis has been resolved, it’s important for people to understand how it arose and why.
The thing that struck me from the first moment I heard about it is the gross political ineptness of those involved in the process. A child could have seen that allowing a state-owned Arab company to buy control of some of our major port facilities was political dynamite in the wake of 9/11. At the very minimum, the issue should have been handled with kid gloves and elevated to the highest political levels as soon as possible.
Apparently, this was never done. It seems not to have occurred to anyone involved with vetting the decision that this was anything other than a purely routine matter. I find such obtuseness to be utterly unfathomable.
Yet this fits a pattern that we have seen since the earliest days of the Bush Administration. It has only been invisible up until now because so many members of the media have bought the idea that Karl Rove is a political genius, whose tentacles extend into every decision the administration makes, no matter how mundane.
The truth, quite obviously, is not even remotely true. Clearly, Rove had no advance knowledge of the ports decision because I am certain that he would have seen the extraordinary political danger in allowing this thing to go through, regardless of what he thought about the substance.
Therefore, we must conclude that the real failure here is with the Bush Administration’s policy development process. Apparently, it is so broken or atrophied from lack of use that it was incapable of dealing with a highly controversial issue or even communicating the basic facts to those who ultimately had to take responsibility for it.
Equally disturbing is President Bush’s decision to offer unequivocal support for the ports deal before he could possibly have absorbed all its details or ramifications. It is simply incredible that a president who has never vetoed a single bill, ever, would declare his intention to exercise his very first veto on a bill to block the deal that, in all likelihood, would have passed Congress with a veto-proof majority.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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