Because of my lack of patience for the folly and feckless incompetence of the Bush administration, I've been accused of being a horrible, dreadful LLLLLIBERALLLLLLL. Well here's something to warm the hearts of all the true believers I've offended. In the current flap over the purchase of several port terminals by a company based in the United Arab Emirates, Bush is right. The more I learn about the actual operation of these terminals, the more I think all the fuss is silly. I once heard Tom Friedman say in another context that some things are true, even if George Bush says them. This appears to be one such instance.

Democrats and Republicans alike are falling all over themselves to demogogue on this issue. The message seems to be, "Arabs! Ports! Terrorists! Ports! Arabs! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" Meanwhile, factual information seems to refute the hullabaloo.

Of all the port terminals in the United States, about a hundred, the biggest number operated by any American company is eight. The second biggest American company operates one terminal. Foreign companies operate more than 80% of our terminals; that means American companies operate under 20% of them. Silly talk in Congress about banning foreign companies from the field is so out of touch with reality that it's laughable. They might as well enact legislation to build a bridge to the moon out of whipped cream.

Port security, according to several interviews I've heard, is in the hands of the Coast Guard and Customs, not the companies.

And while all the fuss about Arabs is going on, the rest of the world is listening. Our enemies say we're waging war against Islam and Arabs. The port flap confirms it for those who believe it, and probably makes those who wonder think it may be true.

At least the whole affair is entertaining. A lot of Democrats think they can make political hay with transparently foolish posturing, and Republicans who for years faithfully parroted the talking points for every bit of nonsense that came out of the administration are now scrambling to run away from Bush on this deal. It seems to be a contest to see who can look the most ridiculous when the public realizes it's all a big fuss over nothing.

February 26, 2006