February 28, 2006


Bush, Speaking Up Against Bigotry (Richard Cohen, February 28, 2006, Washington Post)

There are times when George Bush sorely disappoints. Just when you might expect him to issue a malapropian explanation, pander to his base or simply not have a clue about what he is talking about, he does something so right, so honest and, yes, so commendable, that -- as Arthur Miller put it in "Death of a Salesman" -- "attention must be paid." Pay attention to how he has refused to indulge anti-Arab sentiment over the Dubai ports deal.

Would that anyone could say the same about many of the deal's critics. Whatever their concerns may be, whatever their fears, they would not have had them, expressed them or seen them in print had the middle name of the United Arab Emirates been something else. After all, no one goes nuts over Germany, the country where some of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists lived and attended school.

To overlook the xenophobic element in this controversy is to overlook the obvious. It is what propelled the squabble and what sustains it. Bush put his finger on it right away. "What I find interesting is that it's okay for a British company to manage some ports, but not okay for a company from a country that is a valuable ally in the war on terror," he said last week. "The UAE has been a valuable partner in fighting the war on terror." It is a long way from a terrorist haven.

Somewhere in the White House, a political operative -- maybe the storied Karl Rove -- must have slapped his head in consternation as Bush made that remark. The politic thing for a president with a dismal approval rating (about 40 percent) would have been to join with the critics, get ahead of the anti-Arab wave and announce that he, too, was concerned about the deal, which was the fault, now that he thought about it, of pointy-headed bureaucrats, Democrats and the occasional atheist. Instead, the White House stuck to its guns, ordering a symbolic retreat -- more study -- but continuing to back the deal.

That Bush has done this should come as no surprise. As a bigot he leaves a lot to be desired.

It';s always amusing when Mr. Cohen intermittently recgnizes that other than the ", (R, TX)" at the end of his name, George W. Bush is pretty much his beau ideal of a president.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 28, 2006 7:41 AM

Of course to the opponents of the deal the fact that a hard core lefty like Cohen is supporting the president is more evidence the deal must be bad.

Posted by: AWW at February 28, 2006 9:49 AM

Richard's not really hard core, since he usually pens one column or so a month that goes against the conventional wisdom on the left. It's just his columns like today's seem almost apologetic to his readership (and likely to some of his co-workers at the Post) in trying to explain supporting GWB, while he can jump in head first with the vitrol when he goes after Bush and toes the standard D.C. line, because he knows those columns will earn affirmation from the circles he normally travels in.

Posted by: John` at February 28, 2006 10:08 AM

He probably wants to keep his job too.

Posted by: erp at February 28, 2006 2:13 PM

"As a bigot he leaves a lot to be desired." Who is the bigot here, the one who won't change his mind about somebody because he speaks funny and is a Texan, or someone who tries to balance xenophobic fears of his country men and the genuine fears of terrorism.

Posted by: ic at February 28, 2006 5:13 PM

George Bush doesn't have a bigoted bone in his body. Those who call him racist only prove how far we've come; they don't even know what a racist looks like.

Posted by: Noel at March 1, 2006 12:40 AM