It’s all about priorities

According to Maureen Dowd this morning:

An upcoming article in The New Republic, contending that the president has not done enough, cites an American Association of Port Authorities estimate that it would cost $2 billion to make the ports secure. But since Sept. 11, only $318 million has been spent. Although Mr. Bush himself endorsed a program to screen cargo at foreign ports, his budget provides no money for it.

On the other hand, we’ve got $32 billion to bribe Turkey. ..

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Dowd also notes:

George Bush has always mocked Washington’s dependence on focus groups. Only last week, he derided mass European protests against the war, saying listening to the marchers would be like relying on focus groups to set foreign policy. (Millions of people marching in the streets of world capitals is not a sampling of opinion; it is opinion.)

Mr. Bush leads a West Wing that thinks politically all the time. Andy Card talks about rolling out the war with Iraq like a marketing campaign, and now Mr. Ridge runs his agency according to the principles of consumer marketing. (And maybe fund-raising, too. According to Al Kamen of The Washington Post, almost half the duct tape sold in the U.S. comes from a company whose founder gave more than $100,000 to Republicans in 2000.)

What can the Bush administration learn from a focus group of understandably confused Americans about making our borders and ports more secure? Do they have a preferred thickness of duct tape? Should they head straight to the bomb shelter or stop by Blockbuster first?

Peggy Conlon of the Ad Council told The Times’s Lynette Clemetson that they asked focus group panels if it would be effective for Mr. Ridge to use celebrities to instruct the public on safety.

I meant to link to it sooner, but August was on top of this little irony last week.