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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

So now it seems that the UAE folks have signed on Bob Dole to help them ride out the port storm, or find a port in the port storm, or something like that. But until today, who was the lobbying arm of the UAE in the United States? Who worked the press on their behalf?

I rung up the Foreign Agents Registration Unit at the Justice Department. And as of the last required filing (covering the first half of last year), there were four firms lobbying on behalf of the UAE and state-controlled UAE entities.

Hunton & Williams for the Ministry of Finance and Industry of the UAE; Global USA, Inc. for the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the United Arab Emirates; Clark & Weinstock for the plain old United Arab Emirates; and Patton Boggs for UAE.



The one of those deals which seemed most tied to working Congress, the executive branch and media circles in DC is the Clark & Weinstock contract. They bill themselves as specializing in "reputation and crisis management."

We pulled the agreement and it's set forth in a January 18th, 2005 letter which former Rep. and W&C's DC Managing Partner Vin Weber (R) wrote to the UAE ambassador. The above excerpt details the two main goals of their representation of the UAE as outlined in their contract.

We called Clark & Weinstock's New York office to see if they're still working the UAE PR and lobbying account. But they didn't return our call.

Watch out for that falling shoe: White House says Bush didn't know about Dubai ports deal until after it was approved. "He became aware of it over the last several days," says Scott McClellan.

TPM Reader BR from Houston ...

Josh,

This is the moment when the mask comes off, the curtain is pulled, and everyone—but especially Bush supporters—gets to see the sad little wizard pulling the strings and relying on his megaphone.

Leave aside the question of whether having our ports controlled by UAE will actually make us less safe—I don’t like it, but I don’t have hard evidence. The larger political point is that Bush has lived and died by the war on terror. He has accused those he believed to be less zealous of, virtually, treason. Etc. etc.

Being a War President, and the War on Terror itself, eclipses everything.

Except when it doesn’t.

The people who voted for him genuinely believed that he would keep them safer than any alternative we could elect. And now he’s blowing it all off, under the guise of “fair play” for countries that have “played by the rules.” Aside from the cribbing from Clinton, just which rules is it he thinks the UAE has played by?

The cynicism of his defense of the port deal is just staggering. He’s not even interested in pretending he didn’t know, or hadn’t considered the psychological ramifications, etc. Not even a nod to “maybe we should review this one more time.”

Could be it’s money—there is clearly some conflict of interesting running around the Treasury Dept.

But maybe they just don’t care. It’s all been a show, from day one. Or, I should say, Day 911.

I hope this knocks some sense into Republican heads. From what I heard on Sean Hannity today, perhaps it has.


I'm still interested in finding out a bit more about just what this deal would leave the UAE company in charge of. But what stands out about the president's talk tough statement today is that it really does amount to -- "The fact we're doing this means that we've looked into it and it's fine. So what's your problem?"

Here's an actual quote: "They ought to listen to what I have to say about this. They ought to look at the facts and understand the consequences of what they're going to do. But if they pass a law, I'll deal with it, with a veto ... they need to know that our government has looked at this issue and looked at it carefully. Again, I repeat, if there was any question as to whether or not this country would be less safe as a result of the transaction, it wouldn't go forward."

In the most generous reading, it's like he's insulted when we don't take his word for it that he's got us covered.

Okay, so too many goofs for the Secretary of DHS. Like Reed says, he should go. But every so often when you're thinking of all of Michael Chertoff's goofs, you've got to remember who George W. Bush really wanted to get the job.

In which I am put in my place ...

Dear TPM,

I think you're being unfair to suggest the President is being inconsistent with his position on the port issue. I don't see the President implying that we have to in any way respect ordinary people of Middle Eastern origin. This is a corporation we're talking about, and Bush has always held a deep respect for the rights of corporations, regardless of their background, or criminal record for that matter.

CH


Point taken.

"I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British (sic) company. I'm trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to people of the world, we'll treat you fairly. And after careful scrutiny, we believe this deal is a legitimate deal that will not jeopardize the security of the country, and at the same time, send that signal that we're willing to treat people fairly."

That was part of the president's comments today about the UAE ports deal while on board Air Force One. With his coinage of the new adjectival phrase 'Great British' you sort of wonder whether the pressure may have brought back his earlier foreign name mangling tick.

But however that may be, set aside the merits of whether it makes sense for a government owned company from the UAE to manage major ports of entry into the US. Forget about that for a moment. Doesn't the president seem ... well, a bit laughable with his new decent respect for the opinions of mankind message?

Does he wear it well? I really did chuckle when I heard him with this stuff. I mean, with racial profiling pretty much the whole world, not outsourcing our foreign policy to people with funny accents, eavesdropping without warrants because that's what tough guys need to do to get the job done, a whole foreign policy framed around the premise that the rest of the world can blow it out their $#@#&.

Even if he's right on the merits, it just doesn't work from a president who makes his political coin of the realm not caring what anybody else thinks or even what the law might be so long as security is even conceivably at stake.

This is one of those funny Bush Washington moments.

The budget cutters axed 32 jobs at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The employees were laid off two weeks ago.

But apparently no one told them that the political office at the White House had decided to make this energy independence squeeze-the-switchgrass-until-it-bleeds-gas week at the White House. And President Bush was heading over to the lab today to participate in a panel on the wonders of renewable energy.

The jobs got reinstated; the president says it was all a mix-up.

1.2 mill to stand next to a Bush? That and other news of the day in today's Daily Muck.

The question of the day is just what the Heritage Foundation and Jack Abramoff were doing getting former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad into see President Bush.

The Malaysians are actually fairly aggressive players in the DC lobbying through sham think tanks racket. I looked under this rock for an article I wrote for the New Republic back in early 2002.

The piece ('Pacific Whim') involves a slightly different set of players. But you can get a decent sense of how that scene works.

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