That said, I feel no sympathy for Bush here, he dug his own grave on this issue through his rhetoric towards Iraq. Paul Krugman pointed this out on February 24th and puts it far better than I.
The administration successfully linked Iraq and 9/11 in public perceptions through a campaign of constant insinuation and occasional outright lies. In the process, it also created a state of mind in which all Arabs were lumped together in the camp of evildoers. Osama, Saddam -- what's the difference?
Now comes the ports deal. Mr. Bush assures us that "people don't need to worry about security." But after all those declarations that we're engaged in a global war on terrorism, after all the terror alerts declared whenever the national political debate seemed to be shifting to questions of cronyism, corruption and incompetence, the administration can't suddenly change its theme song to "Don't Worry, Be Happy."
The administration also tells us not to worry about having Arabs control port operations. "I want those who are questioning it," Mr. Bush said, "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."
He was being evasive, of course. This isn't just a Middle Eastern company; it's a company controlled by the monarchy in Dubai, which is part of the authoritarian United Arab Emirates, one of only three countries that recognized the Taliban as the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan.
But more to the point, after years of systematically suggesting that Arabs who didn't attack us are the same as Arabs who did, the administration can't suddenly turn around and say, "But these are good Arabs."
This is all about retreat from the rest of the world, and thus Democrats should not be blocking this deal. It is nice however, to see Bush get nailed by his own rhetoric. That said, today the xenophobes have won with the Dubai company agreeing to sell operations to a US company. Next up, a 2000 mile long fence between the United States and Mexico.