OK. Who Left Bush Out of the Loop?

Recently, President Bush gave us perhaps an unintentionally candid look at policy-making in his administration. And, despite his aides’ insistence that the president disdains newspapers, it turns out he does read them and closely, too.

He was asked to comment on a plan by his Department of Homeland Security to require Americans to show a passport in order to re-enter the country from trips to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, a questionable hassle that will affect millions who now go back and forth with nothing more than a driver’s license.

Said the president:

“When I first read that in the newspaper about the need to have passports, particularly the day crossings that take place, about a million for instance in the state of Texas, I said, ‘What’s going on here?’ ”

Tourists, truckers, shoppers, exporters, importers, people visiting relatives and border dwellers who decide on the spur of the moment to drop into Mexico or Canada for dinner are also asking, “What’s going on here?”

The proposed regulations will also require Canadians and Mexicans, visitors we welcome, to have passports to enter the United States. This will invite tit-for-tat red tape and Canada has said that if the United States goes ahead with this, it will require Americans to carry a passport to enter Canada, which they’ll have to have anyway in order to get back.

The Department of Homeland Security insisted the passport requirement had been thoroughly vetted with the White House, but apparently the president didn’t get the memo.

These regulations are a needless impediment to travel and trade, and the president himself said he thought there had to be “a better way to expedite the legal flow of traffic and people.”

Here’s hoping he thinks of one before it’s too late.

(Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)SHNS.com)