President Bush is now saying the failed port operation deal with a United Arab Emirates is sending the wrong message to America's allies in the war on terror. It's too bad he didn't worry more that his handling of the proposal sent the wrong message to the American people.
But what is the message being sent to foreign nations? Is it really that bad?
We've sent the message that the President of the United States must actually answer to the American people occasionally, even when he thinks he's above it all. If that doesn't illustrate how democracy works, we can't illustrate it.
We've sent the message that we're a diverse, tolerant nation ... but we aren't fools.
We've sent the message that money can't buy everything. The United Arab Emirates are accustomed to get what they want by dint of wealth (previously, a very American notion) so it's good to show that Americans aren't merely worried about cash.
We've sent the message that we're now taking our borders and security slightly more seriously.
We've sent a message that we need fewer fence-sitting chums and more unambiguous allies in this messy world. We needn't pander to nor curry favor with wafflers.
And we've sent a message to the President: You presume too much. Your secrecy and your mysterious motives make us question your future authority. Don't push it.
No, we haven't sent the wrong message. If the United Arab Emirates (or any other foreign power) believed they were entitled to running American ports, they presumed too much, and we sent a message that nobody should presume they are entitled to such control on our soil.