Friday, February 24, 2006

Is the "Port Controversy" Good for Democrats?

It's hard to understand the Bush administration's tactics here, even if the substance on the ports issue is not as dire as many in the media and party leaderships are making it out to be. Of course, I didn't and have never quite understood it's motivations in going to war in Iraq so what else is new? But the administration's baffling strategery and rhetoric is threatening to split its party, endanger its media-bestowed "national security" advantage, and thereby hand desperate Democrats a gift horse in the mouth that it would do just as well not to look at. Not surprisingly, some Democrats have jumped head first into the apparent breach, hoping to gain something from the spectacle.

While we would hate to throw the sinking Bush Administration a line, this squabble, and the Democrats' contribution to it, could have unforeseen, and negative consequences for Democrats.

For one, the media reaction I've seen is starting to remind me of the worst pandering and fear mongering we saw between 9/11 and March 2003. For liberal blogs happily linking to Lou Dobbs' rantings and railings against the administration over the past week, be careful. Dobbs is not a friend to liberalism and would just as soon stab it and us in the back as he would be to do anything.

Second, by harping on port security, Democrats run the risk of making it appear as if such a thing as total port security and total fool-proof protection against terrorist attacks exists or could be established. While it's undoubtedly true that "we could do better" on ports and in other areas of securing the homeland, it's hard to foresee the circumstances that would allow us to prevent any and all security threats.

Many Democrats and pundits have correctly made the link between Bush's post 9-11 fear mongering and the backlash such antics have had for his interests in this case. When we say things like "you're either with us or against us" and "bring it on", it's hard to suddenly decide to be cautious and deliberate, fair-minded and rationalistic towards a particular race of people or foreign country.

But Democrats might well corner themselves by echoing the same tough talk and reactionary tactics we've heard and seen from Republicans and their media mouthpieces. When the next attack comes, or when the next security threat appears, Democrats may find as a result of their pandering on this issue, that the public is in no mood to be reasonable or rationale.

On the other hand, is their a risk for Democrats if they don't appear to be taking a strong stand on the issue? If they allow the Republican Congress to buck their president on this, Democrats may feel the GOP would reap the rewards of public support, leaving themselves behind. Again.

I report. You decide.

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