Jonah Goldberg

So it's not surprising that Tailgunner Lou insists that the review process that allowed the port deal to go through didn't take into account national security. Of course, for the author of "Exporting America," it is axiomatic that all outsourcing, downsizing or free-trading is against national security.

In response to the port decision, Dobbs ran one of his typically less-than-scientific online polls: "Do you believe national security should play a role in the national security review process?" He knew this was like asking "Do you think prostate exams should screen for prostate cancer?" He just didn't care.

And that's the point: Few politicians - or commentators - seem to care about the facts.

So here are a few, in no particular order: The Dubai firm wouldn't be handling security - the U.S. Coast Guard would continue to do that; unionized American longshoremen would still to do all of the loading and unloading; the ports in question were already foreign-owned, as are countless other ports in the United States; and if the U.S. had rejected the Dubai bid, a Singapore firm would probably have gotten the contract from the Brits instead.

Democratic and Republican politicians respond by insisting that the UAE is a bad country full of bad Muslims and Arabs, while Britain is a nice country where everyone likes us. I'm as Anglophile as they come, but you might have noticed that Britain has a surfeit of jihadi nut bags, such as the guys who blew up the Underground and want to behead Danish cartoonists.

Besides, the same Dubai company bought CSX's American port business in early 2005, and nobody seemed to care then. So, why now?

Well, Bush is in the second-term doldrums, and presidential wannabes are taking advantage of what was, in retrospect, a political - but not a policy - blunder. The White House's tepid defense of the Danish cartoons sent the message to some that Bush is going a bit wobbly. Democrats have found a populist route to zing Bush from the right for a change. The war in Iraq, the war on terror, the bombings abroad and the increasing arrogance of Europe all produce, if not screaming isolationism, the desire to keep all that junk "over there."

Port security is a serious concern, but scapegoating Dubai is a distraction. And if we're going to argue about distractions, we might stick to the entertaining ones.

So did you hear the one about Dick Cheney doodling a picture of the prophet Muhammad?


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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