Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dubai and the Ports

A week is a long time to be away from blogging. Last week I was tied up with planning for a weekend warrior project (more on that later) and my trip to New York for the NYS Association of Towns meeting (more on that later, too).

But right now it's all about Dubai and the ports. While I was in New York, I wasn't reading as much news as I usually do. But my superficial reaction was that the opposition to doing business with Dubai would mask more important issues. And I still feel that way. I never thought I'd come this close to agreeing with Mr Bush, but he's right that we can't avoid business with UAE simply because they're Arab. Don't get me wrong. Bush is a dismal leader in a dozen ways, some of which have led to this ridiculous story. But the knee jerk reaction of congress and the public is equally horrible.

I don't know how leaders gain trust or regain it once they've screwed up, but I'm sure psychologists and good leaders do know. I've said this before on this blog. I used to teach my kids that if you lie under pressure, or betray a friend or anything else that damages your reputation, you have to do ten right things, under similar pressure to regain the trust you lost. I was surprised when Bush's approval rating started to drop, that he didn't seem to care. I'm afraid it's the fundamentalist belief that "I'm right and to hell with the rest of you," that drives Bush. While there's something to be said for clinging to your principles in the face of public opposition, your principles have to be right for this to work. When you're doing things that deeply offend the people you're leading, you'd better have a really strong moral basis to overcome the popular reaction.

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