Before anyone points out that the AP moved news of Norton's resignation at 12:45, please note that the clock on this blog is about 16 minutes fast. You heard it here first, if only just...
The Spectacle Blog
Reading the Wall Street Journal's article on the media's role in fanning the ports fire and ran across this understated paragraph:
Then Mr. Dobbs got on the story. The CNN commentator, who has redefined his career by editorializing against outsourcing, illegal immigration and big business, aired his initial report in which he expressed incredulity that the deal was being allowed to go forward. That report was followed by 15 others in the following 17 of his shows.
I've caught Lou Dobbs' hysterical shtick a few times since he went off the deep end, and I'm usually embarrassed for him.
Maybe he should lose all pretense of seriousness and fully turn into Peter Finch's character, Howard Beale, in the 1976 film Network.
An unimpeachable source is informing us that Gale Norton is looking to spend more quality time in the cleaner air and more pristine wilderness she helped enable. If she's the one jumping ship, all the best.
Too bad that Abramoff isn't available to throw his hat in the ring. Clearly Interior was a department he cared deeply about.
Various people are hearing that we're going to have a resignation this afternoon in President Bush's Cabinet. We reported over the weekend that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had been considered the prime candidate to step aside. The other name to consider is Treasury Secretary Snow. He's been under a great deal of pressure lately to be more vocal. The Snow exit makes another rumor we've been hearing a bit more plausible, which is that current White House chief of staff Andy Card has been looking for "new challenges" at the same time that the President has been considering a new chief of staff. A Snow out, Card moving in to Treasury, would allow the President to put in place a war time consigliere type at chief of staff, to get a very wobbly White House staff in place.
I should add, Dave, that you've got me convinced on the root irrationality question, and the first-order consequences are real. Fortunately we can move on without too many bruises. Big picture? The more fanged heads the mullahs grow, the closer the States and the Emirates grow.
James, I agree that by no means should concerns about "message-sending" govern our decisions. But as with any decision making, it's part of the picture. The message is the secondary consequence. The rest of the Post editorial dealt with the primary decision making, but I found that section about the consequences particularly poignant.
Dave -- I've got to take umbrage with the fear of "sending the wrong message" to the "Arab world." Choosing to do or to not do things based on what presumptive "message" is sent is a reactive, speculative, even irrational policy that I've criticized time and again. Here, I suspect that the UAE will continue to find and take advantage of business opportunities in the United States; that the host of preexisting reasons why the UAE has been a friend in the war on terror will not evaporate; and that the proposal to wipe out our foreign aid to Egypt, for example, if implemented, would be a far greater insult to Arabs than the sinking of the ports deal, which seems merely irritating to a handful of chief dealmakers running a single Arab company.
The Post is rightly miffed by Congress killing the Dubai Ports World deal:
But our brave new Congress has achieved more than the irrational spiking of one business deal. It has also sent a clear message to the Arab world: No matter how far you move along the path of modernization and cooperation, Americans may be unable to distinguish you from al-Qaeda. Dubai welcomes hundreds of ship visits every year from the U.S. Navy and allied ships. It has worked with U.S. agents to stop terrorist financing and nuclear cooperation. But none of that mattered to the craven members of Congress -- neither to the Democrats who first sensed a delicious political opportunity nor to the Republicans who then fled in unseemly panic. As to long-term damage to the United States' security, economy and alliances? Not of concern to the great deliberative body.
About a week ago in this space I came down hard on the NFL players and owners when they looked like they were gonna cut off their noses to spite their faces by failing to reach a new "labor" agreement. Well, in some senses I spoke too soon. The big-market owners did bend a bit on revenue sharing -- which is exactly what they should have done all along -- and both players and owners bent a bit on the distribution of revenues and salary cap issues, which allowed an agreement to be reached that will save the sport. It does seem, however, that the owners bent more than the players did, which I did NOT support... because I have little sympathy for people already making millions to play a game, but mostly because the extra cash for player salaries will end up coming from SOMEwhere, and that somewhere inevitably ends up being from the pockets of the fans. I always support the fans over both the players and the owners.
Anyway, better this deal than no deal -- and better by far. The game will continue on a mostly level playing field, without missing any games, for at least another six years. That's a very good thing, and I congratulate both sides on coming to agreement.