With Ports Deal, Bush Reaped What He Sowed
DANIEL SCHORR: Hoist with his own petard, as Shakespeare might put it, blown up with his own bomb, undone by his own devices.
LIANE HANSEN, Host:
NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr.
SCHORR: President Bush's device was leadership in the war against terrorism. It helped mightily to win him re-election and to amass political capital, as he put it. Political capital meant countless billions for the war in Iraq and whatever else the Commander in Chief said he needed to help make American safe from terrorists. And if he spent some of his capital on dubious enterprises, like warrantless wiretapping and foreign prisons, well, that's the way it is when you have a tough-minded commander.
But then, suddenly, the commander ran out of political capital. The Patriot Act with some new features caused some headshaking in Congress and warrantless wiretapping became an issue. And the President's poll numbers began sinking to less than 40 percent.
And then the petard exploded with a big bang with a deal with a Dubai-based company to operate six American seaports. And suddenly Mr. Bush was on the wrong side of a national security equation. In the name of national security, Americans in great numbers told their members in Congress they didn't want foreigners, especially Arab foreigners, to have control of operations in a position to smuggle in a dirty bomb.
And members of Bush's own party set about derailing the Dubai deal. And what resulted could be called in insurrection in the Republican ranks. The Appropriations Committee in the House voted 62 to 2 to cancel the Dubai agreement, an act of bipartisan rejection of the President such as I have never seen.
And as further indication of how the wind has shifted, Republicans threatened to hold off spending for the war in Iraq if the President didn't give in. In the end, the White House got the Dubai company to bow out of the deal. And the irony is that the Republican rebels are borrowing Mr. Bush's tactics. As they say, hoist by his own petard. This is Daniel Schorr.