The sharks are aroused.
Every now and then the Bush White House makes decisions that make its occupants seem politically tone-deaf. The nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court was one of those decisions. Even though I supported the Miers nomination, I am still wondering what the president was thinking on that one. At the same time, I still marvel at the ferocious reaction of so many conservatives to the Miers nomination. All reserve, all class, all civility went out the window.
Now we are seeing a repeat of that story in a different context. The White House is insisting on the proposed sale of the contract for port operations in several major U.S. cities to a firm owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates.
Conservatives have gone bonkers. (Laura Ingraham, for example, is already in her fully strident, grating, ridiculing mode that makes me want to switch my radio to NPR-- and it takes a lot to push me that far.)
Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are trying to use this deal to get to Bush's right on terrorism.
Bush says he'll veto any legislation that would stop the deal.
The battle lines are formed.
Again, I wonder: What's going on here? Why is this deal so important? Intuitively, it looks like terrible politics and questionable policy. Hugh Hewitt comments persuasively here. People like me, Bush supporters who also understand the concerns raised by other conservatives, are left in the same position we were in during the Harriet Miers fiasco: having to trust the White House. There must be something going on here that makes the president want to support this deal, even though it looks very questionable and has been rolled out with very little political preparation. The White House actually seems surprised by the negative reaction. (This is depressingly familiar.)
Most hard-right conservatives, however, do not trust this White House, and have no reservations about going after Bush with relentless fury. It will be interesting to see if the talk show circuit and NRO's Corner pursue Bush as viciously as they did during the Miers controversy. NRO is already in full attack mode. The blood is in the water; the sharks are aroused.
Stay tuned! If I were a betting man, I'd put all my money on this deal being killed. Just what the Bush Administration needs-- another embarrassing climb-down from a politically mishandled decision.
UPDATE: Big Lizards has the first even-handed analysis of this kerfluffle that I have seen in the conservative blogosphere. It's very much worth a read.
UPDATE 2: The always-colorful, always incisive George Berryman III at Alamo Nation has thoughts worth reading. They'll bring a smile to your face, too.