October 15, 2003

Post-Raines Watch Poor Dave Sanger

Post-Raines Watch

Poor Dave Sanger appears a bit torn today. On the one hand, there's the temptation to describe Dubya as an incurious buffoon when it comes to the greater world outside of Crawford:

"Past presidents have taken in the restaurants of Sydney or the wonders of the country. Not Mr. Bush: He cut the trip down to a visit to Canberra, a capital that is a bit like Ottawa but not quite as vibrant."

Note: Thanks for the Canadian and Australian travel tips Mr. Sanger!

And, on the other, there's the temptation to make it look like we are so badly losing the war on terror that Dubya can't even overnight in Southeast Asia (though even Sanger concedes he's in Thailand for a spell):

"This visit [Manila] will have no overnight. It lasts exactly eight hours, because the Secret Service will not permit Mr. Bush to stay past dinner in a country whose army officers are sometimes of dubious loyalty and where terrorist groups still strike with audacity.

But the Philippine government is not complaining. Indonesia gets the presidential presence for only three hours. It is all part of what one official calls "the trip from Al Qaeda hell."

Good work digging up some hypochondriac over at the Secret Service for the money quote, huh?

Oh, there's a third theme too. It seems Bush has spoiled all that rosy Clinton era globalization fun with all this nettlesome talk of security and such.

"The enforced haste shows how much Southeast Asia has changed from the region Mr. Bush's predecessors once traveled in so freely.

For 15 years, when American presidents visited Asia, it was to celebrate the region's dynamism and to marvel at the semiconductor factories and auto plants that sprang up like bamboo before the Asian economic crisis.

But the politics of globalization, too Clinton-sounding to be a favorite subject in the Bush White House even before terrorism took center stage, seems to be the furthest thing from Mr. Bush's mind.

Instead of factories, Mr. Bush is visiting Thai troops who recently returned from Afghanistan.

When Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, briefed reporters about the trip on Tuesday, she described no new economic programs with Asian allies and never mentioned the trade deficits with China or a decade of stagnation in Japan. Mr. Bush, she said, was intent on putting "security at the heart" of the Asian talks."

[emphasis added]

When terrorism took center stage? You mean that little 9/11 thing?

UPDATE: Reader ES writes in:

"Appreciated your bit today on the Sanger piece. Perhaps he'll be so kind as to print a retraction when Mr. Bush announces intent to negotiate bilateral free trade agreement with Thailand this week, and uses the APEC forum to
renew interest in the WTO Doha Round. There's that damned globalization thing again..."

Indeed.

Posted by Gregory at October 15, 2003 12:30 PM
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