Reality bites

It seems that the President is going to survive the port-sale fiasco after all. Everyone and their Dubaian uncle are rushing in to save him, including Dubai Ports World, which agreed voluntarily to belay its takeover of operations at six American ports for a delay of unstated duration.
At the same time, the New York Times reports that the Bush Administration itself is seeking a delay of the port deal, to “convince Congress” that their security concerns are… unwarranted.
Again, this is a logical result of having spent the last four and a half years of making reality the enemy… Pretend, shall we, that Bill Clinton, or Al Gore, or John Kerry were the President, and proposed the identical deal. We have no doubt whatsoever that Messrs. Frist, Hastert and the rest of the Republican Tabernacle Choir would have vociferously (and viciously) questioned security concerns and everything else from the Democrats’ patriotism to their manhood. And so would, oh, people like George W. Bush.
Alas, Mr. Clinton, or Mr. Gore, or Mr. Kerry or Mr./Ms. Generic-Democrat would have to explain, slowly, and using big words, that security was still being ultimately overseen by the government and its agencies like the Coast Guard, these contracts are essentially administrative operations, that Dubai Ports World’s management, for example, has a C.E.O. named Edward “Ted” Bilkey, and there are lots of other North Americans in its management structure. Our ports were already managed by foreigners. As foreign countries go, particularly in the Middle East, Dubai isn’t so bad; yes, there are concerns about bad things flowing through its ports like Pakistani nukes and stolen cars heading to blow up Lebanese prime ministers and things… but nobody’s perfect, right…
And of course, we’re using the UAE for basing in the Excellent Iraq Adventure. And there are lots of perfectly valid business reasons, such as our need for free markets in goods and capital…
But again–all of this takes time to explain, and big syllable words: Bush and his minions have been conditioning Americans to be dumbed-down– to demand the kind of juvenile, simplistic answers he offers to everything, preferably reduced to catchy sound-bites and primary school level talking points that even network anchors can recite and Tim Russert can’t get wrong.
And so, ironically, a deal that in substance is probably not so bad as all that, can nonetheless be easily portrayed via soundbites as defining the President as weak on security (particularly if he really is stupid enough to veto a Congressional delay bill, which he is not), and worse even than weak on security, somehow coddling an Arab government (and ironically, not the one he usually coddles!)
In short… the deal sounds bad… and that, friends, is unforgivable.
Fortunately for the President, more intelligent heads appear to have prevailed on this one, for the moment, and overcome his fake-cowboy obstinacy, as set forth above.
So the President can take a breather over the ports issue, and start thinking about the nascent Iraqi civil war (that, by and large, he caused), massive unrest in nuclear-armed Pakistan (that, by and large, he caused)… and things like that.
I smell a trip to Crawford and some much needed brush-clearing…