But whether or not the DPW deal really does pose a threat to national security; whether or not those who read Stiglitz can sit back and laugh at the neoliberalists' lack of vision; whether or not the talking heads are up in arms; the major point about Portgate is this:
By declaring his intention to veto, Bush has just annihilated his own self-declared purpose as president.
Let's start with one phrase: 9/11.
It happened. And what happened after that?
The Bush consortium invaded Afghanistan, in clear response to the act of war perpetrated on our nation by Al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies. So far, so good. But then the response changed. It changed from reaction to preemption.
Bush invaded Iraq. The main point for invading Iraq wasn't so much that Saddam had already acted against us and needed retribution. It was that there was a possibility that Saddam could be a threat--and in a post-9/11 world, we had no choice but to change our strategy from deterrence to preemptive invasion--because you can never be too careful.
Bush got the Patriot Act passed through, despite wide concerns about civil liberties--whether or not the government really did have the authority to monitor your library activities, among other things. Why? Because in a post-9/11 world, you can never be too careful.
Bush and Cheney authorized the use of torture--not just against terrorists, but against just about everybody. Despite this clearly new-fangled and rather un-American methodology, Bush had a ready excuse: it was a few bad apples, and in a post-9/11 world, you can never be too careful.
Bush has repeatedly authorized domestic surveillance, wiretapping and data-mining, even in clear violation of the Constitution and Congressional statute. The defense? Ignoring any questions about whether or not the program is helping or harming national security, the justification is: in a post-9/11 world, you can never be too careful.
Time and time again, this president has said that his highest goal, superceding all others, and even superceding any previous precedent of executive authority--is to defend the American people. He has shown time and time again that neither international law, nor federal law, nor the constitution, nor the Legislative or Judicial Branches of the Government of the United States, will prevent him from executing that duty as he and he alone sees fit.
The Bush presidency has not really been the "fuck-you" presidency. Really, it has been the "I can act like a king because I do national security and after 9/11 you can never be too careful" presidency.
And right here, it all comes crashing down. Because for many Bush supporters, it doesn't really matter whether Iraq helped or harmed national security. It doesn't really matter whether the domestic spying program assisted or hindered surveillance of suspected terrorists. It doesn't really matter whether the Patriot Act helps get new leads against terror suspects--because he's trying his best to do what he thinks is right, in their view, and if they agree with him on other issues, they'll be willing to forgive whatever mistakes have been made in his quest to protect the country, because he seems to care that much.
The Portgate scandal is crucial because Bush has violated his own doctrine. When Bush said that we need to justify holding a Middle Eastern company to a higher standard, he showed that he in fact does not agree with the key point of his own doctrine: namely, that in a post-9/11 world, you can never be too careful.
And regardless of whether DPW is a national security threat, the fact that Bush for whatever reason has not taken the same "whatever it takes to defend the American people" approach on this issue that he has taken on Iraq, domestic surveillance, the Patriot Act and torture--that fact paves the way for questioning the motives of the other activities I mentioned--because if Bush really took the "you can never be too careful" approach to everything, why didn't he stop the DPW deal?
Bush has reneged the entire premise of his presidency. And it's now time for us to capitalize.