You’re right about this being a loser for the President. With my background in advertising and corporate communications, I believe I can fill in what happened.
Obviously, DPW and P&O have been talking about this acquisition for some time. You don’t just pull a multi-billion dollar deal out of your back pocket on a whim over lunch. The Saudis are extraordinarlily media savvy. They would have had a corporate p.r. firm getting their country into the news in a positive way, from America’s point of view, starting many months ago. DPW didn’t do that. Nobody clued them in that such a deal might run into a buzz saw in the United States. This amounts almost to corporate nonfeasance.
Second major problem, the Commerce Department did not communicate about the merger to any of the rest of the administration until the decision to approve the deal was made. That speaks volumes about bad communication within the Bush administration.
So Bush gets a blivet dumped on his doorstep, and his instinct to defend kicks in, and he’s stuck, badly served by a department he should have been able to depend on. I predict he’ll chance his mind. He’ll have to, facing a veto override. Unless he wants to take the deal directly to the people in an explanatory talk, and it may be too late for that.
There’s a physical problem here: Only a handful of firms worldwide can even handle this kind of port container management business. So there may be nowhere else to go.
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