Saturday, February 25, 2006

Condi for President? Book Clearly Shows How And Why

Dick Morris is a salesman, basically. During his tenure of nearly twenty years as Bill Clinton’s political consultant, his job mostly consisted of damage control, but, whether you like it or not, sell him he did, and he did a darn good job of it. No friend of the political Left, he molded Clinton, a liberal, into a successful politician of the “moderate” persuasion. Since the end of his relationship with “Bubillary”, as an author and a Fox News contributor, he has shown himself to be a well-educated critic of both the administration he helped beget, and the left wing of the Demopublican Party, and has become a strong supporter of the Bush Administration.
In Condi Vs, Hillary, The Next Great Presidential Race, (Regan Books, 2005) Morris unveils his latest sales pitch for Condoleezza Rice. Co-written with political analyst Eileen McGann, the book begins with this:
“If the thought of another Clinton presidency excites you, then the future indeed looks bright. Because, as of this moment, there is no doubt that Hillary Clinton is on a virtually uncontested trajectory to win the Democratic nomination and, very likely, the 2008 presidential election...
“But if the very thought of four--or perhaps even eight--more years of the Clintons and their predictable liberal policies alarms you; if you see through the new Hillary brand--that easygoing, smiling moderate; if you remember what a partisan, ethically challenged, left-wing ideologue she has always been, is now, and will always be, then you can see what the future holds...
“But her victory is not inevitable. There is one, and only one, figure in America who can stop Hillary Clinton: Secretary of State Condoleezza “Condi” Rice. Among all of the possible Republican candidates for president, Condi alone could win the nomination, defeat Hillary, and derail a third Clinton administration...
“This is a race Condi can win.”

This is a highly readable book, contrasting the public Hillary to the “real” Hillary, whom Morris refers to as “Dr. Jeckyll and Mrs. Hyde,” and contrasting Hillary to Condi. He makes no unwarranted statements, carefully footnoting his resources, and even citing from Hillary’s own book, Living History. He sketches Condi’s life and accomplishments, great accomplishments, indeed. Summing up the comparison, Morris states, “Hillary campaigns, Condi auditions.”
Acknowledging the fact that Condoleezza Rice has stated that she has no plans to run for president, Morris assures us that Condi would run if drafted. Using the grass roots Internet movement-- which influenced the 2004 presidential election so heavily--as a model, he details exactly how Condi could be drafted as the Republican presidential nominee. Condi’s day job is highly demanding, he cautions us, so we have to do all the organizing and fund raising ourselves, as the Secretary of State has little time for campaigning.
This book is a must read for those who are interested in seeing Condoleezza Rice as the next President of the United States, but it is also an important primer on how politics work. Morris and McGann are highly knowledgeable on the inner workings of politics, and this is why Condi Vs. Hillary will be relevant beyond 2008. The authors explain how the media, the Internet, public relations, polls, influence peddling, and fundraising all fit in to the big picture of big party politics. They explain so clearly that any reader who is confused by politics will genuinely feel the light bulb of understanding brighten overhead.
My own thoughts are echoed in the final chapter of the book: “The election of 2008 will be the next great presidential race. With the possibility of two popular women as candidates, the voters will make history.
“We can only hope it’s the right kind of history.”

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Did The Insurgents Succeed or Fail?

It most likely wasn’t Iraqi Sunnis who blew up the “Golden Dome” mosque in Samara, Iraq, yesterday. And if it were Moslems, they weren’t very religious. My guess is that the perpetrators of the crime were either Al Qeada, or agents from Iran or Syria, or Baathist/Saddamist insurgents. But fanatics or not, they were not very religious. The timing was right for their purposes; just as the newly elected government was forming coalitions and alliances between Shiite and Sunni, the act of terrorism served to foment civil war between those two volatile sects. Immediately after the demolition of the mosque, an important Holy Shrine to the Shiites, backlash riots and murders were carried out against the Iraqi Sunni population, these also most likely provoked by insurgents. It seems that a terrorist mission has succeeded in its purpose.
Or has it? Along with the sectarian acts of violence are even larger demonstrations of unity between the Shiite and Sunni factions. As the initial reaction cools, Iraqis are beginning to realize that the act of terrorism was meant to ignite violence among themselves. I feel that eventually, the act will result in backlash against the militants. Incidences of civilians turning insurgents in to the authorities, and of civilians physically fighting against the foreign insurgents will increase. It will ultimately unite Sunni and Shiite in opposition to those who would commit blasphemy for the sake of taking away what they have come to treasure: Freedom.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Much Ado

So the British company Peninsular and Oriental Steam Ports has sold its port management holdings to Dubai Ports World, a nationalized company of the United Arab Emirates. This has been approved by the Bush administration, with his top cabinet members, Homeland Security, and the Pentagon giving it the okay. The UAE company will have the duties of dispatcher in six major American ports, but loading and unloading the ships will still be handled by Americans, as will be port security. Both factions of Congress immediately protested the sale, for very good reason; the UAE may still have some connection to terrorists.
President Bush has said that Dubai represents no threat to the United States, and that the UAE is a strong ally in the war on terror. But, is he forgetting that the UEA was the last country to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan? That they once donated an airplane to an Al Qaeda training camp?
But maybe it is Congress and the public, through the media, that is once again getting the wrong message. As White House spokesman Scott McClellan, and the President pointed out, the Port management company does not control the port, nor does it control security. The British company has had management of the port terminals for several years, and the white House has asked “why should a Middle Eastern company be treated differently from a British company, especially if they have followed all the rules.”
After all, the White House assures us, Dubai has passed the scrutiny of the Committee for Investigation of Foreign Investment, which includes Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. In fact, the deal includes the agreement that 100% of high risk containers will be inspected by US Customs before they leave the point of origin. Security wouldn’t be different, says the White House, if Dubai was there or not. In fact, under Dubai, the same people who are managing the ports now, would still be in the same position. It is important to note that the port management company does not control the ports, that is done by the domestic port authorities. Security duties would still be performed by US Customs and the US Coast Guard. All Dubai does is the same thing that POSP does currently; maintain and procure equipment and sign the paychecks. They don’t even have a say in who loads and unloads cargo; that is up to the Teamster’s Union. Consider also that the Port of Long Beach is operated by a company from Communist China, and that several other US ports are managed by companies from Great Britain, Singapore and Taiwan.
And, consider that, for years, Dubai Ports World has operated port terminals in Japan, South Korea, and Australia, and there have been no reports of terrorism from those active allies of the US that could be traced back to port management. Dubai is a $300 billion a year business, would they jeopardize their standing as a business by allowing or facilitating an act of international terror?
So why are members of both factions of Congress in an uproar over this? First of all, there are those who are against anything the Bush Administration does. They are still seeking truth in Michael Moore’s assertion, in his self-described “mockumentary” Fahrenheit 9/11, that President Bush is somehow in bed with countries that support terrorism for money and oil. There are those who are running for election or reelection to Congress this year, and want to position themselves on any issue that will catch the attention of their electorate.
The President himself makes a good point--this is not a political issue, it is a practical issue. After all the progress the US has made in securing allies among the Arab and Islamic world, including UAE, Qatar, Kuwat, Jordan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkestan, Indonesia, and Malaysia, it would be a great risk to not allow the sale of the management company to Dubai.
So, if the issue is domestic security, shouldn’t we worry more about the fact that only 6% of all the shipping containers coming into the United States are inspected by Customs? Isn’t it more of a concern, especially with Bolivia announcing that it is an ally with Al Qaeda, that our southern border be better protected?
I feel that, as the Dubai deal is further examined, which it should be, the facts about what was considered, why and how the deal was approved will show that the management of the port terminals is not a concern. The fervor will dwindle considerably, and we will get back to the real issue of securing our borders.