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Do GOP Leaders Oppose Port Deal? Hard to Tell on Fox News

Reported by Judy - February 22, 2006

Neil Cavuto tried his best again Wednesday (February 22, 2006) to make a "Democrats vs. George Bush" fight out of the Congressional opposition to letting a UAE-owned company operate six major American ports, as Fox News continued its defense of Bush.

On "Your World with Neil Cavuto," Cavuto returned to this theme from Tuesday that denying Dubai Ports World the ability to operate six major U.S. ports amounted to "country-profiling."
Cavuto brought in Elaine Kamarck, a Democrat and former adviser to Vice President Al Gore, to re-hash why denying the deal would not amount to racial profiling. When Kamarck objected, "Let's not place it on Democrats," Cavuto interrupted and talked over her.

Where was Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist or House Speaker Dennis Hastert? Both Republican leaders are introducing legislation to at least slow down the port deal. Instead of rehashing the same stale talking point from Tuesday, why didn't Cavuto explore the differences within the Republican Party over this issue? Could it be because Cavuto thinks rank and file Republican viewers will rally to Bush's side if they think this dispute is just more "Bush-bashing" by Democrats? Having GOP leaders discuss their opposition would only make Bush look more and more alone and ridiculous.

To guard against that, Cavuto also brought in syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer to offer an explanation as to why Bush is not just being stubborn in threatening to veto any legislation to block the Dubai Ports World deal. Krauthammer, who says the deal should have been killed by the administration long before it became public, nevertheless defended Bush's veto threat. The UAE has been "an ally of the United States, a friend in the war on terror, and to gratuitously give it a slap now I think would damage our relations with the UAE and would look to other Arabs who we are trying to work with in the war on terror like a gratuiitous insult." He suggested a compromise that would require Dubai Ports World to allow U.S. officials to work inside the company for 10 years to oversee its internal security.

Since Cavuto is supposed to be a business reporter, he brought in the "Forbes on Fox" crew to discuss the impact that blocking a deal with an Arab country would have on American companies. Dennis Kneale, Forbes managing editor, tried to make race the issue by saying no one objected to the British company operating the ports previously. "This is driven by cynical politics. The Democrats have finally found an issue to be manly on about security and the Republicans have betrayed their own president because they don't dare give up that turf to the Democrats," he said.

Jim Michaels, Forbes editorial vice president, noted that the Republicans were behaving just as badly as Democrats in opposing the deal. "Now is the time we should show we are not anti-Arab, we are not anti-Muslim, we are anti- Al Qaeda," he said. Cavauto claimed that opposition was making the U.S. "look like scaredy-cats."

As Lea Goldman, also of Forbes, noted, that may be because Bush has hammered on terror, terror, terror ever since 9/11. "Now he is expecting us to put it all behind us," she said.

Individual Americans have been expected to sacrifice their individual freedoms for Bush's constant war on terror. We are supposed to allow him to tap our phones without a warrant, for example, and Arab citizens were supposed to consent to be rounded up by the hundreds for questioning. It's OK to hold people without charges, to engage in torture. But when it comes to a multi-billion-dollar deal for a global corporation that raises security concerns, we're not supposed to say a word, just check our rights at the door and let the big corporations have their way. Americans' freedoms are expendable. Big business deals are not.

That may make sense in Cavuto's world, but not in mine.

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