Friday, March 03, 2006

Are you an Arab company who wants to buy a U.S. Port? Do you need to lobby Washington and appease the masses?

At your service are the experienced teams of...
















Clinton&Clinton....











and Dole&Dole

We all are aware that businesses operate today in a very complex and unstable global economic environment where the process of globalization collide quite frequnetly with the forces of nationalism. American political and business elites are celebrating the opening of markets and the free flow of capital worldwide but out there in the dark corners of the American Heartland where people just don't get it, they still seem to reside in a pre-globalization era where -- can you imagine that? -- a sense of national identity and security overrides commitments to the principles the free market. So say you head an Arab company that would like to take over several U.S. container terminals. Well... you've got a problem in the form of populist anger in Middle America where folks assume that if would be easier for terrorists to iniltrate Arab-controlled ports. And they could start putting pressure on their representatives in Congress to reject your bid. So what to do? Here is our deal: We offer you the services of two teams of experienced Washington political operators who would manage to deliver you a post-modernist lobbying strategy which could on one hand allow you to manipulate and buy-off decision-makers in the executive branch while on the other hand make it possible for your to appease the angry masses. Here it how it works: Take the Clinton&Clinton team:
Hillary Clinton, a leading opponent of DP World’s takeover of some US port operations, was this week forced to admit that she did not know her husband had advised Dubai leaders on how to handle the growing dispute. Yes, and "I never had a relationship with that woman"
But former President Bill Clinton’s ties to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates should not have come as a surprise to his New York senator wife. And the proof: Mrs Clinton’s own senatorial financial disclosure forms reveal that her husband earned $450,000 giving speeches in Dubai in 2002. Officials from the UAE also donated between $500,000 and $1m to fund Mr Clinton’s presidential library in Arkansas. It was part of an effort by the emirates, said a person close to UAE officials, to forge a close relationship with a former US president who is influential and highly regarded in the region. Yep, while Hillary bashed the deal with Dubai, Bill was busy lobbying for them... And indeed, Mr Clinton’s admiration for the UAE was last on display in November, when he made his fourth visit to the American University in Dubai and met students participating in the Clinton scholarship programme. The UAE has also contributed $100m to Hurricane Katrina relief funds – which Mr Clinton had a leading role in raising. And that's helpful and certainly looks good
Mrs Clinton’s tough stance that the deal represented an “unacceptable risk” to national security has caused UAE officials some consternation. It shouldn't have... as we'll see later. Regarded as the leading Democratic candidate for the 2008 presidential elections, she has used the deal – which polls show is disliked by most Americans – and the anti-Arab sentiment it sparked to attack the Bush administration on national security, an issue that has been seen as a weak point for Democrats. Makes sense politcally Although Mrs Clinton has been careful not to criticise the UAE directly, her stance has put her in the same camp as legislators who openly accuse Dubai of helping to finance the September 11 terrorist attacks and deem the UAE untrustworthy. Mmm...
Privately, some Democrats see the revelations about his ties to the UAE as a classic Clinton dilemma. Mrs Clinton told the New York Post on Thursday that she did not know her husband had been contacted by Dubai officials two weeks ago and offered them advice on the deal. Yeah.. right. I believe you (not!). Although both Hillary and Bill Clinton say he stands behind her on the issue and there is no direct conflict, his relationship to the UAE has complicated her political stance on the transaction. Not really. You see. Hillary is posing as a security hawk and an Arab basher. Voters like that and she gets political brownie points. But then after a "decent interval" she'll start retreating from her initial stance. She has received more information on the deal...blah.. blah.. blah.. She has now a greater comfort level over it... blah..blah.. blah.. She would even support a "compromise" -- meaning that we'll going ahead with the deal -- while ensuring U.S. security...blah...blah...blah... So everyone is happy: Bill got paid. Hillary won more votes. The masses had a chance to get out their anger. And you guys have your deal.

And let's take now the Dole&Dole team:
The lobbying of former Senate majority leader Robert J. Dole on behalf of the Dubai-owned company set to take over management of terminals at six major U.S. seaports is creating a political problem for his wife, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.). It shouldn't have, as we explained The chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Jerry Meek, yesterday called on Sen. Dole to remove herself from "any congressional oversight" of the Dubai port deal. "The fact that Dubai is paying her husband to help pass the deal presents both a financial and ethical conflict of interest for Senator Dole," Meek said. Notice he didn't call on Hillary to do the same
A spokeswoman for Sen. Dole rejected the criticism as "a partisan attack" and defended the senator's role as a lawmaker and her husband's as a lobbyist. "Elizabeth Dole knows that her work is separate from Bob Dole," said her spokeswoman, Lindsay Taylor Mabry. "Bob Dole works for a law firm. Elizabeth Dole works for the people of North Carolina." Oh... Give me a break
Former senator Dole (R-Kan.), 82, remember those Viagra commercials? said in a written statement yesterday that he is not going to lobby his wife or members of Congress. His law firm, Alston & Bird LLP, helped steer the application of Dubai Ports World through the federal bureaucracy over the past few months, and Dole signed on as a lobbyist for the company this week. His spokesman would not say what lobbying, if any, Alston & Bird is now doing in Congress; the firm's spokeswoman did not return telephone messages. Like we need to talk with those guys to know what's happening...
Dubai Ports World beefed up its lobbying efforts, including on Capitol Hill, after lawmakers threatened this week to scuttle the transaction. The lawmakers said they feared that national security might be compromised by letting a Middle Eastern firm manage key U.S. ports. Dole's statement said he will confine his lobbying to the Bush administration. "I have not nor will I 'lobby' Members of Congress on this issue, not even at home," he wrote. "I have not discussed the port issue with any Senator or member of Congress or anyone working for the Congress, nor will I do so in the months to come." "Liddy, I won't mention the ports. But if I had to mention them, then this would be my view..."
The controversy confronting the Doles is an increasingly common one in Washington. According to Public Citizen's Congress Watch, at least three dozen members of Congress have relatives who are professional lobbyists. Which should make everyone happy...Bill and Bob get paid. Hillary and Liddy get votes. And Dubai gets the ports...

1 comment:

Hoots said...

What a delightful romp! I blogged it. There are too many sour-faced people out there who don't know when they are being snookered.