Rules of the Game

So the Dubai port deal is dead, at least the Dubai part of it. And the president saves the embarrassment of being repudiated by his own party. And laughed at by the opposition party.

I frankly couldn't care less. But here's what I do care about. Not how we bicker here. But how we're thought of out there. Out in those countries that hear us saying our markets are free but not free to them. Not free to a country we see as a threat. And not free in the case of China a few months ago, we see as a bigger threat.

We like to say we encourage all to invest here. But I don't think we mean it here. And I think they know it out there. They know we're getting a reputation of doing deals with friends. But a disturbingly bad one for avoiding them with countries that might like to be our friends.

I'm not here to judge whether Dubai was a threat, just that in the end, Dubai couldn't be bothered. And so, too, other countries that might think of this country — they talk a big game. But it's a game where America sets the rules, and when the chips look stacked, changes those rules.

That's no way to run a business. That's even less of a way to run a country.

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