One of the more interesting stories to surface in the media in recent days is that of the Arab-American Secret Service agent who was refused his seat on an American Airlines flight to Texas.
The agent, Wallid Shatter, was on his way to the President’s home in Crawford, Texas to serve on his security detail. Apparently he was bumped from his initial flight and was trying to board a second flight when the pilot stepped in and removed him.
That’s about all everyone agrees on.
The agent (or more accurately, his attorneys) states that this is an especially egregious example of discrimination against Arab-Americans. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) concurs. American Airlines, on the other hand, states that the agent, who was armed, was acting in a suspicious manner, to say the least.
Here’s why this is interesting:
Conservative media sources are already lining up behind American Airlines. Liberal media sources are lining up behind the agent. …and President Bush, apparently committing an embarrassing gaffe, has apparently sided with the liberals.
For example, here’s what James Taranto of the conservative OpinionJournal.com has to say about it: “Tightened airport security has been a hassle for anyone who has flown in America since Sept. 11. CAIR and Shatter’s lawyers ask us to believe that because Shatter is Muslim, his inconvenience and wounded pride are worth more than everyone else’s. What an insult to Americans’ intelligence and goodwill.”
No room for doubt there.
On the other hand, here is the headline over at that bastion of liberal media bias, ABCNews.com: Agent Is Racial Profiling Victim, Says Fellow Passenger An American Airlines passenger says he believes an Arab-American Secret Service agent who was kicked off a Christmas Day flight was targeted because of his ethnicity. [NOTE: It is only after you get to the 7th paragraph of the story where you read American Airlines statement as to why they excluded agent Shatter.]
Yesterday President Bush wandered into this media food-fight. He weighed in saying he would be “madder than heck” if a government inquiry into the incident found that one of his Secret Service protectors was the victim of discrimination.
This is your textbook example of a “gaffe”, i.e., where you accidently speak the truth. Is it possible that Bush spoke his mind before checking with wonderboy Karl Rove? If so, maybe Bush is more liberal than he looks. Or maybe he’ll be moderating his original statement somewhat as this story develops, i.e., after checking with Rove. Stay tuned…