Friday, March 10, 2006



Five years in, certain bills come due:

"He has no political capital," said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster. "Slowly but surely it's been unraveling. There's been a direct correlation between the trajectory of his approval numbers and the -- I don't want to call it disloyalty -- the independence on the part of the Republicans in Congress."

The port deal has troubled Republicans not just on the substance of the issue but also on the president's handling of it. The White House failed to anticipate the frenzy that would be touched off by the prospect of an Arab company managing U.S. ports, and many Republicans believe that Bush exacerbated the situation with a rash veto threat.

The missteps seem all the more striking for a White House once known for its discipline and political acuity. With Bush's approval rating ranging from 34 percent in a CBS News poll to 41 percent in the latest Washington Post-ABC News survey, some Republican candidates facing the voters in just eight months worry
privately that, unlike in 2002 and 2004, he will be more albatross than advantage for GOP candidates in the fall campaign.

And speaking of bills coming due, the long-term ramifications of the port Du-bacle, may be truly high for the country:

It was more than a bit ironic that on the very day that Dubai Ports World threw in the towel and agreed to sell off its U.S. operations, the Commerce Department announced yet another record monthly trade deficit for January, putting us on course to exceed last year's record deficit of $724 billion. At this rate, we are adding to our debt to the rest of the world at the rate of $2,500 a year for every man, woman and child in America.

Where do you think that $724 billion comes from? Let me tell you: It comes from the people who have the dollars. And in case you hadn't noticed, tops on that list are the Japanese who are selling us all those cars, Arabs selling us all that expensive oil, and the Chinese selling us the shirts on our backs, the athletic shoes on our feet and all those computers and flat-screen TVs in front of our noses.

If these folks suddenly get the idea that we don't really trust them enough to do business with them, and begin acting the way human beings do when they get poked
in the eye, you could be looking at 8 percent mortgage rates, 6 percent unemployment, $4 gasoline, a $1.50 euro and a 9000 Dow.

A president and a nation.

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