It looks like the controversy over a Bush Administration plan to allow an Arab-owned company to manage American ports is coming to an end. The company apparently plans to transfer operations to an American-run entity (though everyone seems a little unclear what that means).
The debate over this issue has been heated and unfair.
I've appreciated that the president has often since 9/11 reminded people that not all Muslims are to blame for the terrorist attacks. His comments in this area are a rare bright spot in his otherwise lousily conduct as president.
Unfortunately, this president has also stoked fears of terrorism and then exploited those fears for political gain at every opportunity. Those fears came back to haunt him this month as Democrats and Republicans joined in claiming that allowing an Arab-run company to operate American ports would not be safe.
Senator Frank Lautenberg summed up the opposition to Bush's plans at a New Jersey rally:
"We wouldn't transfer the title to the devil, and we're not going to transfer it to Dubai."
Lautenberg has been a great senator but his comments smacked of racism toward Arabs.
All Democrats showed us on this issue was that they could be as exploitive as the president and campaign just as dirty. Partisans will cheer the Democrats and congratulate themselves over defeating Bush. But the cost of this victory was too high. Lautenberg, at the very least, owes Arabs everywhere a clear apology.
Related Link: American Public Opinion About Islam and Muslims