- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 1, 2006

In their opportunistic opposition to the Dubai Ports World takeover of commercial container operations at six major U.S. ports, Democrats aren’t just reversing themselves on “racial profiling” but on their phony condemnation of President Bush for allegedly shattering our alliances in the War on Terror.

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Democrats have railed against any hint of profiling, even for national security reasons. Liberal political correctness is the intangible, misguided moralistic force that has demanded that airport baggage checkers scrutinize blue-haired Caucasian ladies as readily as, if not more than, young Middle Eastern male adults. Yet, there’s no other conceivable explanation for their objection to the alleged transfer of “foreign control” over these ports than that the transferee company is Arab.

The Democrats’ opposition, as distinguished from the differently motivated opposition from some on the right, has also demonstrated their wholesale hypocrisy in having castigated Mr. Bush all these years for his supposedly ham-handed approach to international diplomacy and turning otherwise peaceful Muslims into homicidal terrorists. So, in one fell swoop, they’ve done an about-face on their positions on both profiling and alienating our allies in the War on Terror.

But there is a method to the Democrats’ madness. Whatever principles the Democrats have, even those most unattractive ones leading to their appeasement orientation, they’re always for sale if the price — reacquiring political power — is right.

They’re obviously calculating that their betrayal of these principles is necessary to portray themselves as the stronger party on national security.

Because, make no mistake, the Democrats recognize national security has been their foremost obstacle to recapturing the White House. Hillary Clinton asserted as much in no uncertain terms just last week. And she is, after all, the putative Democratic presidential nominee for 2008.

The Democrats’ condemnation of the ports transfer, then, is just one more in their long line of pathetic attempts to break up the Republicans’ perceived monopoly on national defense.

In the last few years, they have mounted countless back-door attacks on the Republicans’ exclusive ownership of the national security issue. I refer to their various efforts to discredit Mr. Bush as a wartime leader without taking the ludicrous position that they are stronger on national security than he.

In launching these indirect assaults, they have all but tacitly conceded Republicans are stronger on defense but insisted Republicans are nevertheless too inept, unsophisticated or immoral to conduct the War on Terror effectively.

These attacks have included condemning Mr. Bush for “unilateralism,” “going it alone” or “destroying our alliances” in the War on Terror. When we celebrated our initial rout of Iraq in record time, they said, “Yes, but what at cost? You have toppled Saddam but at the expense of alienating Western Europe and driving up terrorist recruitment. You people might be great at making war, but you are miserable at international relations, and any gains you might have achieved militarily will be canceled by the destruction you are wreaking on America’s image abroad.”

They have carried this general theme forward in politicizing the abuse and torture allegations of Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, arguing, essentially, that we can never win the hearts and minds of terrorists — and thus the War on Terror — if we don’t quit advertising our own inhumanity.

They’ve also engaged in the back-door attack of painting the administration as contemptuous of civil liberties, not just those sought-after civil rights of our al Qaeda enemy but of “innocent” Americans. In this vein, they’ve depicted the Patriot Act as President Bush’s and former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s license to oppress and spy on their fellow citizens. Likewise, they’ve mischaracterized our “signals intelligence” as a National Security Agency domestic spying scandal.

These indirect attacks damaged Mr. Bush, and, ironically, even hurt his and America’s image abroad. But they never won Democrats their coveted prize of being the go-to party on security issues.

The Democrats have also been impotent to exploit the president’s one area of vulnerability on security — immigration — because they are even laxer on border enforcement.

But this latest Portgate effort by the Democrats is finally a frontal assault on the president’s bona fides as commander in chief. While I think the president has some more explaining to do on this issue, the enormity of the Democrats’ chutzpah in trying to depict themselves as national-security virtuosos is truly mind-boggling.

But to say they’re ridiculously audacious is not to suggest it’s impossible they’ll get away with it. I doubt they will, but no less a congenital dove than Hillary has been meticulously cultivating a hawkish image for several years now, with apparent success. Keep a sharp eye.

David Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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