Bush's defense of the port deal is to say that "those who are questioning it" need to "step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company."
First of all, it's not "all of a sudden." The phrase you're searching for, Mr. President, is "ever since the murderous attacks of Sept. 11." The Bush administration's obstinate refusal to profile Middle Easterners has been the one massive gaping hole in national security since the 9/11 attacks — attacks that received indirect support from the United Arab Emirates.
There are at least 3,000 reasons why a company controlled by a Middle Eastern Muslim emirate should be held to a different standard than a British company. Many of these reasons are now buried under a gaping hole that isn't metaphorical in lower Manhattan.
Even four years after 9/11, I note that we don't hear Tony Blair condemning some cartoons in a Danish newspaper as "a cultural extremism," or saying their publication represents a "dreadful clash of civilizations."
That was U.A.E. Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Mohammed Al Dhaheri's recent comment on the great Danish cartoon caper.
So maybe Bush could defend his port deal without insulting our intelligence by asking why anyone might imagine there's any conceivable difference between a British company and a United Arab Emirates company.
President Bush has painted himself into a corner on this issue, and he needs a face-saving compromise to get out of it. Here's my proposal: Let Harriet Miers run the ports.
Thursday, February 23, 2006