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A Profile in Cowardice

Roger Simon of Politico writes a column in which he says President Obama might well be a one-term president. Writing with intentional sarcasm, Simon is trying to make a serious point: Obama is brave, courageous, and not driven by polls. And the most recent, powerful evidence of this? Why, Obama’s statement on Friday, at an iftar dinner at the White House, when he said this: “As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

According to Simon:

A recent CNN poll found that 68 percent of Americans do not want a mosque built close to ground zero. Which should mean: End of story. That’s all she wrote. Let’s move on to the next crisis. It appears, however, that at least on this occasion, Obama does not care what the polls say. … Maybe Obama is disconnected. After all, as a former professor of constitutional law, he actually knows what the Constitution says.

So Obama, because of his stand on Friday, is a Profile in Courage. But what Simon neglects to mention is what Obama said on Saturday, when he offered this “clarification”:

I was not commenting, and I will not comment, on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding.

It turns out Obama’s gutsy, brave, once-in-a-generation-act-of-political-courage lasted less than 24 hours. Having seen the criticism his comments on Friday elicited, Obama ran for the hills on Saturday. He’s now voting “present” on the mosque issue. Yet Mr. Simon takes none of that into account in his column. Did he not know about Obama’s backtracking? Or did it just not matter to him? Perhaps because it was so at odds with his heroic image of Obama, Simon simply could not process it.

For those who are enraptured by this president, these cannot be easy days. They are now at the point where, in order to praise him, they have to overlook reality. What we saw from Obama over the weekend was evidence of political weakness, of bowing to the polls, of jettisoning his position in the face of criticism.

It was, in fact, a profile in cowardice.


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