The Financial Times has a column by Edward Luce entitled “How they are all out Bushing Bush.” Mr. Luce notes that Bush was unable to get approval for the Dubai port deal which involved a simple transfer of ownership from one foreign company to another of a tiny fraction of Americaâ€™s container terminal operations where that company would have no say over security or screening operations in America’s port. Meanwhile, Bush was able to get the Senate to back down on investigating his violation of the FISA law by conducting warrantless surveillance in the form of wiretaps on American citizens. How to reconcile the two?
[I]t is clear leaders of both parties lack the confidence to challenge the mood of xenophobia that exists outside Washington. Instead they are fuelling it.
In some respects the Democrats are now as guilty of stoking fears on national security as the Republicans. Their logic is impeccable. A majority of Americans believe there will be another large terrorist attack on American soil. Such is the depth of anxiety that one-fifth or more of Americans believe they will personally be victims of a future terrorist attack. This number has not budged in the last four and a half years.
Mr Bush has consistently received a much higher public trust rating on the war on terror than the Democrats. Without this â€“ and without the constant manipulation of yellow and orange terror alert warnings at key moments in the political narrative â€“ Mr Bush would almost certainly have lost the presidential race to John Kerry in 2004.
Mr Bushâ€™s numbers are now in freefall, with some polls showing a majority no longer trusts him on this pivotal issue. In other words, the Democrats have found an effective way of neutralising their most persistent electoral liability: they are out-Bushing Mr Bush.
It is easy to see why key Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, have adopted this strategy. It is easy also to see why their Republican counterparts are following suit. As Peter King, the Republican representative for New York, said last week: â€œWe are not going to allow the Democrats get to the right of us on this issue.â€ This left Mr Bush holding the candle for the left, as it were. It is to be hoped that this was a uniquely unusual moment. But we should not bank on it. The Democrats are hungry for victory.
Update: As luck would have it, the Indy Star has an editorial on the spiked port deal this morning. They blame the death of the deal on hysteria and xenophobia. They neglected to mention whether the Bush administration has been promoting a culture of hysteria and xenophobia over the past 4.5 years. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.