Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Maureen's Mixed Musings

In the Tuesday Mar. 14th print edition of the Detroit Free Press is an op-ed by Maureen Dowd of the New York Tmes titled "Mixed messages on US security."

Although it is a typical Bush bashing article, I agree with her on a few points. First, the bashing:

"Homeland Security's protection of the ports is a joke. The goof-off Michael Chertoff is remarkably still in charge."

I'll give her a slight pass on the joke comment but I guess Chertoff is a "goof-off" because why? No answer. She continues:

"The swaggering of the president and vice president on national security has been exposed as a sham, with millions spent shoring up our defenses wasted, with the Iraq war aggravating our danger, and with anti-Muslim feeling swelling among Americans and anti-American feeling swelling among Muslims."

Well, since we haven't had another attack since 9/11 I would not say "millions spent shoring up our defenses" was "wasted." Notice how Ms. Dowd frames everthing in the context of the emotional. It's not Bush and Cheney's policies that are wrong, it's their "swaggering." And the swelling of anti-Muslim and anti-American "feelings" has nothing to do with cultural or ideological differences but are caused, again, by "swaggering." She then points to a poll showing that "A majority (of Americans) now think Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence." A little later she claims:

"Bush does not seem to understand that it was his bumbling, rather than our bigotry, that led Americans to gulp and yelp at the idea of an Arab government running our ports. When the president said Friday that 'My administration was satisfied that port security would not have been undermined by the agreement,' he seemed oblivious to the fact that--after WMD, Katrina and Iraq--many Americans no longer trust this administration to protect them."

No Maureen, it wasn't Bush's bumbling that caused Americans to "gulp" and "yelp" over Arabs running our ports. It was 3000 American bodies on 9/11 and the more recent image of Muslims rioting and burning buildings and killing people over cartoons that is causing all the "gulping." The fact that Islam has an image problem is not Bush's fault.

She does show signs of trying to get it right when she says:

"There is nothing wrong with wanting Americans to be responsible for American security. That's not nativism or jingoism or bigotry. It's self reliance and prudence." True, but then she adds:
"Of course, such an attitude can be exploited by bigots, and some bigotry is being fed by scenes on the news every day of Arab fighters blowing things up, leading to the same stereotype of Arabs that existed in the '70s, a caricature limned from terrorism, oil and the petrodollar."

So it's the television news that's guilty of "feeding bigotry" by showing "scenes on the news every day of Arab fighters blowing things up?" But the print media for whom she works is guiltless? Her own New York Times doesn't harp on every death in Iraq as proof of Arab inability to become civilized thus proving the futility of the Iraq war? And the image of Arabs as blowers up is just a stereotype?

While I disagree with her so far I have to agree with this:

"Since Sept.11th, he (Bush) has been anti-terror but pro-Muslim, a position that has left Americans confused. His enemy is a tactic that's too vague to pinpoint, too vast to ever defeat." I have to admit, on this point she nails it. Terrorism is a tactic and not our real enemy and his cozyness with Saudi Arabia, a sponsor of terrorism, is causing some Americans to distrust him.

But then Ms. Dowd ends her op-ed with a quote by Michael Hirsh of Newsweek:

"How then did we arrive at this day, with anti-American Islamist governments rising in the Mideast, Osama bin Laden sneering at us, Al Qaeda lieutenants escaping from prison, Iran brazenly enriching uranium, and America as hated and mistrusted as it ever has been? The answer, in a word, is incompetence."

Yep. All these things would go away if Bush weren't so incompetent.
But "incompetent" at what? Making our enemies like us so they won't destroy us? Or failing to destroy them first so they won't destroy us? I think it's obvious where Ms. Dowd stands. Nowhere does she advocate the destruction of the states that sponsor terrorism.

Had Bush carpet bombed Tehran and Damascus when he was taking out Saddam there wouldn't be near the insurgency there is now. And if Saudi Arabia threatened to blow up their oil wells, we could ask if they need any help with that. Ms. Dowd is good at telling us what she's against. I would like to know what she's for.
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