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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Presidentís ego an issue in firestorm over ports

Remember back in the last presidential campaign when the president wouldn't admit to having made a mistake as chief executive because he didn't remember having made one?

That same dogged determination to stay the course, full speed ahead, take no prisoners approach to running the country appears to be the way he's approaching the major controversy over the nation's ports being run by a company that an Arab nation owns.

The president has the mistaken belief that it is weak leadership to have second thoughts, or to admit a mistake. He was well into this term before saying some things could have been done differently in the war on Iraq. But he's never said flat out that he's made a mistake.

The port deal with Dubai Ports World, owned by the United Arab Emirates, may not be a mistake, but the nation is feeling awfully uneasy about the president's management style.

He seems to have used up most of the image he built as a strong leader following 9/11. He's clearly been wrong on Iraq, and he gets a big slab of blame for the failure of the government to act quickly after Hurricane Katrina and for continuing to mishandle funds and aid.

Other nagging problems help thrust his popularity to almost its lowest point of his presidency. Now he tells us that we need to trust him in allowing port operation at six major cities by an Arab nation.

It doesn't matter that he makes valid points in his reasoning, or that he has a strange bedfellow in former President Jimmy Carter supporting him. Public confidence in the president continues to wane.

Ours is a government of three equal branches. Congress, in the aftermath of 9/11, abdicated its checks and balances function to the president. He's so accustomed to having his way, he's defiantly threatening to veto any bill Congress might pass to prevent Dubai from taking over the ports.

The president's old management style clearly comes through in this port flap and that is part of the reason why people are uneasy.

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