Commentary Magazine


Topic: Ground Zero mosque

How Is the Ground Zero Mosque Playing in NYC?

It takes a perfect storm for the Republicans to win a congressional seat in Manhattan. But there is a storm brewing, so is it possible? Well, it’s not likely, but stranger things have happened.

The NY-14 (the East Side and part of Queens) is rated by Charlie Cook as “solidly Democratic.” Carolyn Maloney was elected in 1992 and really hasn’t faced serious opposition since. However, this year she has a primary challenge and, if she prevails, will face an energetic, likable Republican opponent, Ryan Brumberg. At least on one issue Maloney is badly out of step with her constituents. Unlike several other Democratic colleagues, she’s come out in support of the Ground Zero mosque. In fact, she’s being pushed by her primary challenger to be more vocal in her support. (What is she to do beyond cheerleading — donate money?)

For now, Maloney is trying to change the topic and talk about a bill for additional compensation for 9/11 responders. Brumberg is trying to keep the issue front and center and has been clear in his opposition to the Ground Zero mosque. In a brief e-mail exchange, Brumberg tells me: “I oppose the building of a mosque on ground zero because the Imam refuses to condemn Hamas as a terror organization, and claims that America was partially to blame in the September 11th attacks.”  He explains,”Just as the First Amendment grants Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf the right to build his mosque, it also gives us the right to protest its construction. Maloney’s actions are emblematic of a worrisome trend among hardcore liberals: that we need to go beyond granting those we disagree with the right to act, to actively supporting their endeavors and ideology.”

Well, his stance on the Ground Zero mosque is the same as that of Howard Dean, Harry Reid, and 60 percent of New Yorkers. Will it be a key issue in the race? Brumberg argues, “Yes, the September 11th attacks touched the lives of every citizen in this district, and yet Maloney’s support for this Imam shows how out of touch she is.”

On other foreign-policy issues, Brumberg cites the danger of “nuclear proliferation posed by Iran and North Korea” and also the threat posed by “yawning trade deficits and the increasing American dependence on Chinese capital.” As for domestic policy, he dismisses the idea that we are in a recovery. “The reality of our country’s present economic situation is that as long as Washington continues to waste our precious resources, our economy will never truly recover. We need to unchain America’s economic potential — create jobs and pay down the debt.”

It is not clear that the district is winnable by a Republican. But if there is any year it might be done, this is it. And Brumberg certainly has an opening now that Maloney is providing fodder for the argument that she is out of touch, too liberal even for New York City.

It takes a perfect storm for the Republicans to win a congressional seat in Manhattan. But there is a storm brewing, so is it possible? Well, it’s not likely, but stranger things have happened.

The NY-14 (the East Side and part of Queens) is rated by Charlie Cook as “solidly Democratic.” Carolyn Maloney was elected in 1992 and really hasn’t faced serious opposition since. However, this year she has a primary challenge and, if she prevails, will face an energetic, likable Republican opponent, Ryan Brumberg. At least on one issue Maloney is badly out of step with her constituents. Unlike several other Democratic colleagues, she’s come out in support of the Ground Zero mosque. In fact, she’s being pushed by her primary challenger to be more vocal in her support. (What is she to do beyond cheerleading — donate money?)

For now, Maloney is trying to change the topic and talk about a bill for additional compensation for 9/11 responders. Brumberg is trying to keep the issue front and center and has been clear in his opposition to the Ground Zero mosque. In a brief e-mail exchange, Brumberg tells me: “I oppose the building of a mosque on ground zero because the Imam refuses to condemn Hamas as a terror organization, and claims that America was partially to blame in the September 11th attacks.”  He explains,”Just as the First Amendment grants Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf the right to build his mosque, it also gives us the right to protest its construction. Maloney’s actions are emblematic of a worrisome trend among hardcore liberals: that we need to go beyond granting those we disagree with the right to act, to actively supporting their endeavors and ideology.”

Well, his stance on the Ground Zero mosque is the same as that of Howard Dean, Harry Reid, and 60 percent of New Yorkers. Will it be a key issue in the race? Brumberg argues, “Yes, the September 11th attacks touched the lives of every citizen in this district, and yet Maloney’s support for this Imam shows how out of touch she is.”

On other foreign-policy issues, Brumberg cites the danger of “nuclear proliferation posed by Iran and North Korea” and also the threat posed by “yawning trade deficits and the increasing American dependence on Chinese capital.” As for domestic policy, he dismisses the idea that we are in a recovery. “The reality of our country’s present economic situation is that as long as Washington continues to waste our precious resources, our economy will never truly recover. We need to unchain America’s economic potential — create jobs and pay down the debt.”

It is not clear that the district is winnable by a Republican. But if there is any year it might be done, this is it. And Brumberg certainly has an opening now that Maloney is providing fodder for the argument that she is out of touch, too liberal even for New York City.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Obama has managed to revive the conservative movement, drive independents into the GOP’s arms, sink his own party’s fortunes, bring Sarah Palin and Howard Dean together (on the Ground Zero mosque) — and convince more Americans he’s a Muslim. “A new survey reports a sharp increase in the number of Americans who, incorrectly, say President Obama is a Muslim. The increase has occurred over the last couple of years, and the poll was taken before the president stepped into the fray of the Ground Zero mosque controversy.” Wait until the next survey.

The State Department couldn’t manage to find a Muslim who didn’t blame the U.S. for 9/11? “American taxpayers will pay the imam behind plans for a mosque near the Manhattan site of the Sept. 11 attacks $3,000 in fees for a three-nation outreach trip to the Middle East that will cost roughly $16,000, the State Department said Wednesday.”

The GOP manages to find its party leader, and it’s not Michael Steele: “Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is the most powerful Republican in American politics — at least for the next three months. Barbour, who runs the Republican Governors Association, has more money to spend on the 2010 elections — $40 million — than any other GOP leader around. And in private, numerous Republicans describe Barbour as the de facto chairman of the party.”

The GOP also manages to raise a ton of cash despite Steele: “With less than three months until Election Day, Democrats are becoming increasingly concerned that the independent groups they are counting on for support won’t have the money to counter what they fear will be an unprecedented advertising campaign waged by their Republican counterparts. Republicans and their allies have been working for months with single-minded focus on plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on ads funded by a combination of existing special interest groups and newly formed political outfits.” Maybe they don’t need an RNC chairman.

The White House manages to annoy more House Democrats: “Roughly three-quarters of the oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s ruptured well is still in the environment, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official told a House panel Thursday. The estimate contrasts previous pronouncements by administration officials that only about a quarter of the oil remains to be addressed. … Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who chairs the Energy and Environment Subcommittee that held the hearing, said the administration’s initial report this month — and the trumpeting of it — gave people a ‘false sense of confidence’ about the environmental risks that remain.”

Despite the work of its enemies, Israel manages to survive and, yes, flourish. An Israeli was “awarded the 2010 Fields Medal – considered the ‘Nobel Prize’ in the field.” There is no Nobel Prize for math, but Israel has nine of those.

It would be a minor miracle if Virginia House Democrats Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello manage to get re-elected. “Nathan Gonzales, political editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, termed Perriello and Nye ‘extremely vulnerable’ in November. ‘It’s highly unlikely they’ll both survive a wave like the one that’s developing,’ Gonzales said.”

Chris Christie manages to become a movie star in his first year in office.

Obama has managed to revive the conservative movement, drive independents into the GOP’s arms, sink his own party’s fortunes, bring Sarah Palin and Howard Dean together (on the Ground Zero mosque) — and convince more Americans he’s a Muslim. “A new survey reports a sharp increase in the number of Americans who, incorrectly, say President Obama is a Muslim. The increase has occurred over the last couple of years, and the poll was taken before the president stepped into the fray of the Ground Zero mosque controversy.” Wait until the next survey.

The State Department couldn’t manage to find a Muslim who didn’t blame the U.S. for 9/11? “American taxpayers will pay the imam behind plans for a mosque near the Manhattan site of the Sept. 11 attacks $3,000 in fees for a three-nation outreach trip to the Middle East that will cost roughly $16,000, the State Department said Wednesday.”

The GOP manages to find its party leader, and it’s not Michael Steele: “Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is the most powerful Republican in American politics — at least for the next three months. Barbour, who runs the Republican Governors Association, has more money to spend on the 2010 elections — $40 million — than any other GOP leader around. And in private, numerous Republicans describe Barbour as the de facto chairman of the party.”

The GOP also manages to raise a ton of cash despite Steele: “With less than three months until Election Day, Democrats are becoming increasingly concerned that the independent groups they are counting on for support won’t have the money to counter what they fear will be an unprecedented advertising campaign waged by their Republican counterparts. Republicans and their allies have been working for months with single-minded focus on plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on ads funded by a combination of existing special interest groups and newly formed political outfits.” Maybe they don’t need an RNC chairman.

The White House manages to annoy more House Democrats: “Roughly three-quarters of the oil that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s ruptured well is still in the environment, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official told a House panel Thursday. The estimate contrasts previous pronouncements by administration officials that only about a quarter of the oil remains to be addressed. … Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who chairs the Energy and Environment Subcommittee that held the hearing, said the administration’s initial report this month — and the trumpeting of it — gave people a ‘false sense of confidence’ about the environmental risks that remain.”

Despite the work of its enemies, Israel manages to survive and, yes, flourish. An Israeli was “awarded the 2010 Fields Medal – considered the ‘Nobel Prize’ in the field.” There is no Nobel Prize for math, but Israel has nine of those.

It would be a minor miracle if Virginia House Democrats Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello manage to get re-elected. “Nathan Gonzales, political editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report, termed Perriello and Nye ‘extremely vulnerable’ in November. ‘It’s highly unlikely they’ll both survive a wave like the one that’s developing,’ Gonzales said.”

Chris Christie manages to become a movie star in his first year in office.

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Hiding Behind Rudy

In the midst of the Ground Zero mosque debacle, there is, it seems, some benefit that liberals think they will derive in trying to show they are not unmoved by “reasonable” Republicans, only by those fiery, nasty ones. A case in point is Jonathan Capehart, who tells us he respects what Rudy Giuliani had to say, but he not all those conservatives deploying “needlessly inflammatory and divisive rhetoric that makes a mockery of everyone’s professed support of freedom of religion.” Well, maybe he’s referring to Newt Gingrich, whose comment, Pete pointed out, really was over the top. But I suspect he’s pointing to the broad range of conservatives — John Boehner, Sarah Palin, and the rest.

What, then, did Rudy say that meets Capehart’s test? First there was this, reported by Maggie Haberman of Politico:

He takes a very hard line, including saying that “decent Muslims” will not be offended by the opposition because they want peace as much as others do. …

[RUDY]: “So it not only is exactly the wrong place, right at ground zero, but it’s a mosque supported by an imam who has a record of support for causes that were sympathetic with terrorism. Come on! We’re gonna allow that at ground zero?

“This is a desecration,” he added. “Nobody would allow something like that at Pearl Harbor. Let’s have some respect for who died there and why they died there. Let’s not put this off on some kind of politically correct theory.

“I mean, they died there because of Islamic extremist terrorism. They are our enemy, we can say that, the world will not end when we say that. And the reality is, it will not and should not insult any decent Muslim because decent Muslims should be as opposed to Islamic extremism as you and I are.”

That’s OK, in Capehart’s book. Seems strong stuff compared to Palin. (“Mr. President, should they or should they not build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3,000 people? Please tell us your position. We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they?”) And it’s a bit tougher than Boehner. (“The decision to build this mosque so close to ground zero is deeply troubling, as is the president’s decision to endorse it. The American people certainly don’t support it. The fact that someone has the right to do something doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do. That is the essence of tolerance, peace and understanding.”) So what’s Capehart’s beef with them?

Rudy had some additional words today:

“The question here is a question of sensitivity and are you really what you pretend to be,” Giuliani said. “The idea of this is supposed to be healing, the idea that Muslims care about what Christians and Jews do. … If you’re going to so horribly offend the people … who are most directly affected by this … then how are you healing?”

And he, like nearly every other Republican, questioned the imam’s motives:

“I’m confused by the imam,” Giuliani said. “I see all the things that you’re saying, but I also see a man that says America was an accessory to Sept. 11.”

He noted that an Arab prince who tried to give $10 million to New York had his donation returned — by Giuliani himself — for making similar points shortly after the attacks. He also noted that Rauf has refused to denounce Hamas.

“Those quotes trouble me but here’s what troubles me more — if he’s truly about healing he will not go forward with this project because this project is not healing,” he said, adding, “This project is creating tremendous pain for people who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

“The question is should they build it, are they displaying the sensitivity they claim by building it,” he said.

He added, “All this is doing is creating more division, more anger, more hatred.”

In short, there is not one iota of difference between what Rudy is saying and what virtually every other conservative critic of the Ground Zero mosque is saying. It is simply hard, terribly hard, for Capehart and other liberals to acknowledge that Sarah Palin, Charles Krauthammer, John Boehner, Marco Rubio, and a host of other conservatives are the nuanced, reasonable ones in the debate. But he should be honest about it rather than hiding behind Rudy.

In the midst of the Ground Zero mosque debacle, there is, it seems, some benefit that liberals think they will derive in trying to show they are not unmoved by “reasonable” Republicans, only by those fiery, nasty ones. A case in point is Jonathan Capehart, who tells us he respects what Rudy Giuliani had to say, but he not all those conservatives deploying “needlessly inflammatory and divisive rhetoric that makes a mockery of everyone’s professed support of freedom of religion.” Well, maybe he’s referring to Newt Gingrich, whose comment, Pete pointed out, really was over the top. But I suspect he’s pointing to the broad range of conservatives — John Boehner, Sarah Palin, and the rest.

What, then, did Rudy say that meets Capehart’s test? First there was this, reported by Maggie Haberman of Politico:

He takes a very hard line, including saying that “decent Muslims” will not be offended by the opposition because they want peace as much as others do. …

[RUDY]: “So it not only is exactly the wrong place, right at ground zero, but it’s a mosque supported by an imam who has a record of support for causes that were sympathetic with terrorism. Come on! We’re gonna allow that at ground zero?

“This is a desecration,” he added. “Nobody would allow something like that at Pearl Harbor. Let’s have some respect for who died there and why they died there. Let’s not put this off on some kind of politically correct theory.

“I mean, they died there because of Islamic extremist terrorism. They are our enemy, we can say that, the world will not end when we say that. And the reality is, it will not and should not insult any decent Muslim because decent Muslims should be as opposed to Islamic extremism as you and I are.”

That’s OK, in Capehart’s book. Seems strong stuff compared to Palin. (“Mr. President, should they or should they not build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3,000 people? Please tell us your position. We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they?”) And it’s a bit tougher than Boehner. (“The decision to build this mosque so close to ground zero is deeply troubling, as is the president’s decision to endorse it. The American people certainly don’t support it. The fact that someone has the right to do something doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do. That is the essence of tolerance, peace and understanding.”) So what’s Capehart’s beef with them?

Rudy had some additional words today:

“The question here is a question of sensitivity and are you really what you pretend to be,” Giuliani said. “The idea of this is supposed to be healing, the idea that Muslims care about what Christians and Jews do. … If you’re going to so horribly offend the people … who are most directly affected by this … then how are you healing?”

And he, like nearly every other Republican, questioned the imam’s motives:

“I’m confused by the imam,” Giuliani said. “I see all the things that you’re saying, but I also see a man that says America was an accessory to Sept. 11.”

He noted that an Arab prince who tried to give $10 million to New York had his donation returned — by Giuliani himself — for making similar points shortly after the attacks. He also noted that Rauf has refused to denounce Hamas.

“Those quotes trouble me but here’s what troubles me more — if he’s truly about healing he will not go forward with this project because this project is not healing,” he said, adding, “This project is creating tremendous pain for people who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

“The question is should they build it, are they displaying the sensitivity they claim by building it,” he said.

He added, “All this is doing is creating more division, more anger, more hatred.”

In short, there is not one iota of difference between what Rudy is saying and what virtually every other conservative critic of the Ground Zero mosque is saying. It is simply hard, terribly hard, for Capehart and other liberals to acknowledge that Sarah Palin, Charles Krauthammer, John Boehner, Marco Rubio, and a host of other conservatives are the nuanced, reasonable ones in the debate. But he should be honest about it rather than hiding behind Rudy.

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RE: Peter Beinart’s Lamentation

Pete, I was torn about whether to follow up on your very adept post concerning Peter Beinart’s frustration (as well as that of much of the left) with Obama, America, etc. But I think it is important to call out blatant religious bigotry, and so, at the risk of drawing more eyeballs to his noxious discourse, I decided that this portion of Beinart’s rant deserves further comment:

Until a month or so ago, I genuinely believed that the American right had become a religiously ecumenical place. Right-wing Baptists loved right-wing Catholics and they both loved right-wing Orthodox Jews. All you had to do to join the big tent was denounce feminists, Hollywood, and gays. But when push came to shove, Sarah Palin didn’t care about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s position on gay marriage. In today’s GOP, even bigotry doesn’t spare you from bigotry. I wonder what Mitt Romney was thinking, as he added his voice to the anti-Muslim chorus. He surely knows that absent the religious right’s hostility to Mormons, he’d likely have been the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee. I look forward to his paeans to religious freedom when anti-Mormonism rears its head again in 2012.

And oh yes, my fellow Jews, who are so thrilled to be locked arm in arm with the heirs of Pat Robertson and Father Coughlin against the Islamic threat. Evidently, it’s never crossed your mind that the religious hatred you have helped unleash could turn once again against us. Of course not, we’re insiders in this society now: Our synagogues grace the toniest of suburbs; our rabbis speak flawless English; we Jews are now effortlessly white. Barely anyone even remembers that folks in Lower Manhattan once considered us alien and dangerous, too.

This is as bizarre as it is inappropriate. Not to belabor the point, but Beinart knows as much about religious conservatives as he does about Israel — i.e., most of what he “knows” is wrong. There is great commonality among people of faith, and it is not based on cartoonish prejudices. Needless to say, what brings together observant Baptists, Catholics, and Jews — as well as a great many others — are quaint notions like the centrality of the Bible in their lives, the objection to hyper-secularism (which seeks to crowd them out of the public square), and, yes, a deep faith that America is a blessed nation with certain responsibilities in the world.

Sarah Palin cares not one wit about Rauf’s views on anything but the issue at hand, because she, unlike Beinart, can stick to the point. That point, in case we’ve lost track, is whether we should cheer a provocateur who will bring (and already has) untold strife to the country, anguish to 9/11 survivors, and cheers from jihadists, who would see the Ground Zero mosque as a triumphant symbol of Islam. As for Romney, I don’t recall his advancing views all that different from a number of Muslims. Or Howard Dean (who seems to realize that the Ground Zero mosque is “not about the rights of Muslims to have a worship center … it is a real affront to people who lost their lives”).

As for Beinart’s second paragraph, it is an unfortunate example of the bile that can be splattered on Jews by Jews, with nary an eyebrow raised by elite opinion makers. Had Pat Buchanan, to whom Beinart lately bears an uncanny resemblance, accused Jews of walking with Father Coughlin, or had Al Sharpton (before becoming part of polite liberal company) referred to Jews as “effortlessly white,” I imagine all sorts of elites would be throwing a fit. But now it is par for the course.

Beinart has either lost control of himself or is out to best the Beagle Blogger in playing to the angry, unreasoned left. There are, after all, lucrative books deals in doing that. Who knows what his motives are, but he might want to stop before Politico runs a forum on whether he, too, has gone around the bend.

Pete, I was torn about whether to follow up on your very adept post concerning Peter Beinart’s frustration (as well as that of much of the left) with Obama, America, etc. But I think it is important to call out blatant religious bigotry, and so, at the risk of drawing more eyeballs to his noxious discourse, I decided that this portion of Beinart’s rant deserves further comment:

Until a month or so ago, I genuinely believed that the American right had become a religiously ecumenical place. Right-wing Baptists loved right-wing Catholics and they both loved right-wing Orthodox Jews. All you had to do to join the big tent was denounce feminists, Hollywood, and gays. But when push came to shove, Sarah Palin didn’t care about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s position on gay marriage. In today’s GOP, even bigotry doesn’t spare you from bigotry. I wonder what Mitt Romney was thinking, as he added his voice to the anti-Muslim chorus. He surely knows that absent the religious right’s hostility to Mormons, he’d likely have been the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee. I look forward to his paeans to religious freedom when anti-Mormonism rears its head again in 2012.

And oh yes, my fellow Jews, who are so thrilled to be locked arm in arm with the heirs of Pat Robertson and Father Coughlin against the Islamic threat. Evidently, it’s never crossed your mind that the religious hatred you have helped unleash could turn once again against us. Of course not, we’re insiders in this society now: Our synagogues grace the toniest of suburbs; our rabbis speak flawless English; we Jews are now effortlessly white. Barely anyone even remembers that folks in Lower Manhattan once considered us alien and dangerous, too.

This is as bizarre as it is inappropriate. Not to belabor the point, but Beinart knows as much about religious conservatives as he does about Israel — i.e., most of what he “knows” is wrong. There is great commonality among people of faith, and it is not based on cartoonish prejudices. Needless to say, what brings together observant Baptists, Catholics, and Jews — as well as a great many others — are quaint notions like the centrality of the Bible in their lives, the objection to hyper-secularism (which seeks to crowd them out of the public square), and, yes, a deep faith that America is a blessed nation with certain responsibilities in the world.

Sarah Palin cares not one wit about Rauf’s views on anything but the issue at hand, because she, unlike Beinart, can stick to the point. That point, in case we’ve lost track, is whether we should cheer a provocateur who will bring (and already has) untold strife to the country, anguish to 9/11 survivors, and cheers from jihadists, who would see the Ground Zero mosque as a triumphant symbol of Islam. As for Romney, I don’t recall his advancing views all that different from a number of Muslims. Or Howard Dean (who seems to realize that the Ground Zero mosque is “not about the rights of Muslims to have a worship center … it is a real affront to people who lost their lives”).

As for Beinart’s second paragraph, it is an unfortunate example of the bile that can be splattered on Jews by Jews, with nary an eyebrow raised by elite opinion makers. Had Pat Buchanan, to whom Beinart lately bears an uncanny resemblance, accused Jews of walking with Father Coughlin, or had Al Sharpton (before becoming part of polite liberal company) referred to Jews as “effortlessly white,” I imagine all sorts of elites would be throwing a fit. But now it is par for the course.

Beinart has either lost control of himself or is out to best the Beagle Blogger in playing to the angry, unreasoned left. There are, after all, lucrative books deals in doing that. Who knows what his motives are, but he might want to stop before Politico runs a forum on whether he, too, has gone around the bend.

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It Could Be Worse: The Mullahs’ Ground Zero Mosque

Here is the mosque-building crowd that the leftist punditocracy is defending:

The developers behind the Islamic center planned for a site near Ground Zero won’t rule out accepting financing from the Mideast — including from Saudi Arabia and Iran — as they begin searching for $100 million needed to build the project. The religious organization and the development company behind the center declined to say how much of the $100 million needed to build the facility has already been raised. …

“We’ll look at all available options within the United States to start. We’re hoping to fund this predominately from domestic donors. That can be everything from institutions all the way down to personal [contributors],” said [spokesman Oz] Sultan.

When asked if they would then turn to foreign donors, Sultan replied, “I can’t comment on that.”

Pressed on whether the developers were willlng to rule out accepting donations from the governments of Saudi Arabia or Iran, he repeated, “I can’t comment on that.”

It is hard to see how the mosque builders could be promoters of religious reconciliation if they’d take money from Saudi Wahhabists or the despots of Iran. Maybe they are, you know, trying to make a different sort of statement, pitching to potential donors that they, too, can have a piece of the edifice at Ground Zero. Would they sell naming rights? (The Ahmadinejad Social Hall. The Anwar al-Awlaki Courtyard.) The possibilities are endless.

And none of the chest-beaters preening over their devotion to “tolerance” — not Obama, Bloomberg, Pelosi, and certainly not the left blogosphere — thought to inquire about the very issue that concerned so many of the  mosque opponents. Now we face the prospect that a mosque will be built on Ground Zero by those who sponsor jihadist attacks:

Fifteen of the 19 [9-11] terrorists were Saudi Arabian and funding from that country could further anger those already opposed to the mosque. Many mosques in the U.S. have been funded in part with Saudi money. Iran has been designated a sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. government.

Maybe David Axelrod and crew “missed” the issue, or maybe no one can raise concerns about exactly which Muslims the president is fawning over at the moment. He’s not one for inconvenient news, so after a while it would be human nature for staff to avoid raising issues, however basic and obvious, with a president insistent on making grand gestures, the facts be damned.

The controversy is indeed beginning to worsen the president’s already diminished standing with the voters. Wait until the voters hear that Iran and Saudi Arabia may be paying for the Ground Zero mosque.

Here is the mosque-building crowd that the leftist punditocracy is defending:

The developers behind the Islamic center planned for a site near Ground Zero won’t rule out accepting financing from the Mideast — including from Saudi Arabia and Iran — as they begin searching for $100 million needed to build the project. The religious organization and the development company behind the center declined to say how much of the $100 million needed to build the facility has already been raised. …

“We’ll look at all available options within the United States to start. We’re hoping to fund this predominately from domestic donors. That can be everything from institutions all the way down to personal [contributors],” said [spokesman Oz] Sultan.

When asked if they would then turn to foreign donors, Sultan replied, “I can’t comment on that.”

Pressed on whether the developers were willlng to rule out accepting donations from the governments of Saudi Arabia or Iran, he repeated, “I can’t comment on that.”

It is hard to see how the mosque builders could be promoters of religious reconciliation if they’d take money from Saudi Wahhabists or the despots of Iran. Maybe they are, you know, trying to make a different sort of statement, pitching to potential donors that they, too, can have a piece of the edifice at Ground Zero. Would they sell naming rights? (The Ahmadinejad Social Hall. The Anwar al-Awlaki Courtyard.) The possibilities are endless.

And none of the chest-beaters preening over their devotion to “tolerance” — not Obama, Bloomberg, Pelosi, and certainly not the left blogosphere — thought to inquire about the very issue that concerned so many of the  mosque opponents. Now we face the prospect that a mosque will be built on Ground Zero by those who sponsor jihadist attacks:

Fifteen of the 19 [9-11] terrorists were Saudi Arabian and funding from that country could further anger those already opposed to the mosque. Many mosques in the U.S. have been funded in part with Saudi money. Iran has been designated a sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. government.

Maybe David Axelrod and crew “missed” the issue, or maybe no one can raise concerns about exactly which Muslims the president is fawning over at the moment. He’s not one for inconvenient news, so after a while it would be human nature for staff to avoid raising issues, however basic and obvious, with a president insistent on making grand gestures, the facts be damned.

The controversy is indeed beginning to worsen the president’s already diminished standing with the voters. Wait until the voters hear that Iran and Saudi Arabia may be paying for the Ground Zero mosque.

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Playing the Bigot Card

On the Ground Zero mosque, the left is playing the bigot card, big time. Some may honestly believe the mosque opponents are Muslim-haters, for they cannot fathom why their fellow citizens would object not to the 100 mosques in New York but to the one on Ground Zero. Others may have figured that 68 percent of America is lost to them so better to rally their own side (sliver?) of voters to put their finger in the electoral dike about to burst all over them. It’s the same thinking that demanded that Democrats pass ObamaCare.

But it’s tricky to label as diverse a group as the mosque opponents as bigots. Sarah Palin, Abe Foxman, Howard Dean, Harry Reid, and, oh, a whole lot of thoughtful Muslims. (It’s the opposition that “looks like America,” as Bill Clinton bragged about his Cabinet.) As to the Muslim objectors, I have highlighted a few this week, and the Daily Caller is out with an interesting report:

Stephen Schwartz, executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, told The Daily Caller that despite their relative silence on the issue, many Muslims question the placement of the mosque.

“This is not a humble Islamic statement. A mosque such as this is actually a political structure that casts a shadow over a cemetery, over hallowed ground. 9/11 was the beginning of a kinetic war, it is not an opportunity for cultural exchange. It was the beginning of a conflict with those who want to destroy our way of life,” Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, told The Daily Caller.

“I am in no way looking to infringe on First Amendment issues. I approach this as a Muslim that is dedicated to reform,” he said.

Jasser cited the Quranic verse, “Be considerate when you debate with the People of the Book [Jews and Christians],” and said that Muslims backing the project should be introspective during this month of Ramadan.

Schwartz lists three reasons for Muslims to object to the project:

“First of all, aside from the issues of conflict with jihad, Islam teaches us, especially Muslims living in non-Muslim societies, to avoid conflict with our neighbors. … We think this is an incredibly heedless project. It went forward without adequate planning or foresight, without anticipating reaction and it is absurd to think that there would not have been reaction. It is simply absurd. Second, there is the problem of Imam Feisal’s propensity to mix with radicals. And thirdly, there is a problem with the lack of transparency about money funding.”

Doesn’t sound like a bigot to me. In fact, it’s the voice of empathy and reasoned argument, exactly what Obama says he wants to promote. (Or is that a one-way street that travels only to the Muslim World?) Dr. Jasser sums up:

“We are Americans who happen to be Muslims, not Muslims who happen to be Americans. … And this structure is all backwards. They just want to force Islam upon the American people and it is going to be used around the world, especially in Islamic media. From the ashes of this destruction comes the flourishing of Islam and I think that is just the wrong message. It is not good for America or for Muslims.”

That the president has no insight into this and seemingly no access to such opinions explain much about his counterproductive Muslim-outreach efforts. If only ideology really was “so yesterday” and Obama operated in the world as it is, not as Rashid Khalidi and the Ivy League taught him it was, we and he would be vastly better off.

On the Ground Zero mosque, the left is playing the bigot card, big time. Some may honestly believe the mosque opponents are Muslim-haters, for they cannot fathom why their fellow citizens would object not to the 100 mosques in New York but to the one on Ground Zero. Others may have figured that 68 percent of America is lost to them so better to rally their own side (sliver?) of voters to put their finger in the electoral dike about to burst all over them. It’s the same thinking that demanded that Democrats pass ObamaCare.

But it’s tricky to label as diverse a group as the mosque opponents as bigots. Sarah Palin, Abe Foxman, Howard Dean, Harry Reid, and, oh, a whole lot of thoughtful Muslims. (It’s the opposition that “looks like America,” as Bill Clinton bragged about his Cabinet.) As to the Muslim objectors, I have highlighted a few this week, and the Daily Caller is out with an interesting report:

Stephen Schwartz, executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, told The Daily Caller that despite their relative silence on the issue, many Muslims question the placement of the mosque.

“This is not a humble Islamic statement. A mosque such as this is actually a political structure that casts a shadow over a cemetery, over hallowed ground. 9/11 was the beginning of a kinetic war, it is not an opportunity for cultural exchange. It was the beginning of a conflict with those who want to destroy our way of life,” Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, told The Daily Caller.

“I am in no way looking to infringe on First Amendment issues. I approach this as a Muslim that is dedicated to reform,” he said.

Jasser cited the Quranic verse, “Be considerate when you debate with the People of the Book [Jews and Christians],” and said that Muslims backing the project should be introspective during this month of Ramadan.

Schwartz lists three reasons for Muslims to object to the project:

“First of all, aside from the issues of conflict with jihad, Islam teaches us, especially Muslims living in non-Muslim societies, to avoid conflict with our neighbors. … We think this is an incredibly heedless project. It went forward without adequate planning or foresight, without anticipating reaction and it is absurd to think that there would not have been reaction. It is simply absurd. Second, there is the problem of Imam Feisal’s propensity to mix with radicals. And thirdly, there is a problem with the lack of transparency about money funding.”

Doesn’t sound like a bigot to me. In fact, it’s the voice of empathy and reasoned argument, exactly what Obama says he wants to promote. (Or is that a one-way street that travels only to the Muslim World?) Dr. Jasser sums up:

“We are Americans who happen to be Muslims, not Muslims who happen to be Americans. … And this structure is all backwards. They just want to force Islam upon the American people and it is going to be used around the world, especially in Islamic media. From the ashes of this destruction comes the flourishing of Islam and I think that is just the wrong message. It is not good for America or for Muslims.”

That the president has no insight into this and seemingly no access to such opinions explain much about his counterproductive Muslim-outreach efforts. If only ideology really was “so yesterday” and Obama operated in the world as it is, not as Rashid Khalidi and the Ivy League taught him it was, we and he would be vastly better off.

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No, Madam Speaker, We Can’t Say THAT!

It seems that a staffer told Nancy Pelosi to walk back the crazy talk:

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement Wednesday addressing criticisms of her remarks yesterday calling for an investigation into the opposition of the Ground Zero mosque.

“The freedom of religion is a Constitutional right,” Pelosi said in the press release. “Where a place of worship is located is a local decision.”

She continued: “I support the statement made by the Interfaith Alliance that ‘We agree with the ADL that there is a need for transparency about who is funding the effort to build this Islamic center. At the same time, we should also ask who is funding the attacks against the construction of the center.’”

So we should investigate whether foreign, jihadist sources are behind the mosque and who’s funding Harry Reid’s opposition? But maybe there will be a clarification tomorrow of her walk-back. To be followed by a statement that she’s awfully glad to be on the opposite side of nearly two-thirds of the country. But it’s really no big deal: “When contacted by The Daily Caller, a spokesperson from Speaker Pelosi’s office said that the press release ‘speaks to her position on transparency on both sides.’ He also said that the outrage over Pelosi’s call for an investigation has been ‘overblown.'” Yeah, the Washington Post has that talking point down.

It seems that a staffer told Nancy Pelosi to walk back the crazy talk:

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement Wednesday addressing criticisms of her remarks yesterday calling for an investigation into the opposition of the Ground Zero mosque.

“The freedom of religion is a Constitutional right,” Pelosi said in the press release. “Where a place of worship is located is a local decision.”

She continued: “I support the statement made by the Interfaith Alliance that ‘We agree with the ADL that there is a need for transparency about who is funding the effort to build this Islamic center. At the same time, we should also ask who is funding the attacks against the construction of the center.’”

So we should investigate whether foreign, jihadist sources are behind the mosque and who’s funding Harry Reid’s opposition? But maybe there will be a clarification tomorrow of her walk-back. To be followed by a statement that she’s awfully glad to be on the opposite side of nearly two-thirds of the country. But it’s really no big deal: “When contacted by The Daily Caller, a spokesperson from Speaker Pelosi’s office said that the press release ‘speaks to her position on transparency on both sides.’ He also said that the outrage over Pelosi’s call for an investigation has been ‘overblown.'” Yeah, the Washington Post has that talking point down.

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Ezra Klein Doesn’t Understand the Ground Zero Controversy?

Ezra Klein is stumped. (There’s a lot of that going on at his paper.) The man who couldn’t figure out the motive for the Times Square bomber — the mortgage crisis was his best guess — can’t figure out why Republicans are “trumpeting” the Ground Zero mosque issue. You mean like giving a speech from an iftar dinner at the White House? Oh, that wasn’t the sinister GOP. But, really, he’s supposed to be some sort of political pundit, and he can’t figure this out? Well — aside from it being the right position in the eyes of conservatives — 68 percent of the country is with the GOP. The issue highlights the chasm between liberal elites and the majority of Americans, and it has the Democrats tied up in knots. It’s so obvious that even Ezra Klein knows what is going on. So why the play-dumb routine?

It’s about keeping hope alive — giving liberals comfort (albeit, false comfort) that the issue is actually a loser for the GOP. (“It loses them long-term votes that they just don’t need to lose. It paints their party as intolerant and opportunistic. And it’s unnecessary: It’s not like they’re hurting for things to talk about.”) Well, it’s true that the GOP has an embarrassment of riches — the non-recovery, ObamaCare, the unemployment numbers, Obama’s anti-Israel stance, etc. — to talk about. But that would suggest the Ground Zero mosque is an issue that ranks up there with historic high dissatisfaction with president’s’ handling of the economy.

Moreover, it is odd to lob the Ground Zero mosque and immigration reform (“And why, a week or two ago, did they start talking about the 14th amendment?”) into the pot labeled “social issues.” Ah, but if you are trying to rile up the liberal base using “social issues” and “conservatives” in the same sentence, it may be quite effective. And don’t get me wrong: I’ve made clear my opposition to mucking around in the 14th Amendment, but I can understand why they are doing it and backing the Arizona bill. (These are popular positions, to my dismay.)

This is the problem with the Post’s offering of Klein as a political pundit. He’s not engaged in any serious analysis; rather, he’s using the Post to gin up his base. He is pretending to be confused about the phenomena the Post is paying him to cover. He ends with this missive to the home team:

Is the mosque — and the social issues more generally — driven by elites? Or by rank-and-file? Does the GOP want to talk about the social issues because they prefer it to talking about the economy or because they don’t feel like they have a choice?

No one other than a Democratic flack thinks the Republicans don’t want to talk about the economy. There’s nothing wrong with opining analysis (I of all people acknowledge that) — even for a publication that pretends to be a straight-news outlet. But when it becomes the very thing that Klein’s JournoListers were criticized for (partisan politics in aid of the Obama team under the guise of “journalism”), isn’t it time for the Post to rethink its jump into the leftist blogosphere?

Ezra Klein is stumped. (There’s a lot of that going on at his paper.) The man who couldn’t figure out the motive for the Times Square bomber — the mortgage crisis was his best guess — can’t figure out why Republicans are “trumpeting” the Ground Zero mosque issue. You mean like giving a speech from an iftar dinner at the White House? Oh, that wasn’t the sinister GOP. But, really, he’s supposed to be some sort of political pundit, and he can’t figure this out? Well — aside from it being the right position in the eyes of conservatives — 68 percent of the country is with the GOP. The issue highlights the chasm between liberal elites and the majority of Americans, and it has the Democrats tied up in knots. It’s so obvious that even Ezra Klein knows what is going on. So why the play-dumb routine?

It’s about keeping hope alive — giving liberals comfort (albeit, false comfort) that the issue is actually a loser for the GOP. (“It loses them long-term votes that they just don’t need to lose. It paints their party as intolerant and opportunistic. And it’s unnecessary: It’s not like they’re hurting for things to talk about.”) Well, it’s true that the GOP has an embarrassment of riches — the non-recovery, ObamaCare, the unemployment numbers, Obama’s anti-Israel stance, etc. — to talk about. But that would suggest the Ground Zero mosque is an issue that ranks up there with historic high dissatisfaction with president’s’ handling of the economy.

Moreover, it is odd to lob the Ground Zero mosque and immigration reform (“And why, a week or two ago, did they start talking about the 14th amendment?”) into the pot labeled “social issues.” Ah, but if you are trying to rile up the liberal base using “social issues” and “conservatives” in the same sentence, it may be quite effective. And don’t get me wrong: I’ve made clear my opposition to mucking around in the 14th Amendment, but I can understand why they are doing it and backing the Arizona bill. (These are popular positions, to my dismay.)

This is the problem with the Post’s offering of Klein as a political pundit. He’s not engaged in any serious analysis; rather, he’s using the Post to gin up his base. He is pretending to be confused about the phenomena the Post is paying him to cover. He ends with this missive to the home team:

Is the mosque — and the social issues more generally — driven by elites? Or by rank-and-file? Does the GOP want to talk about the social issues because they prefer it to talking about the economy or because they don’t feel like they have a choice?

No one other than a Democratic flack thinks the Republicans don’t want to talk about the economy. There’s nothing wrong with opining analysis (I of all people acknowledge that) — even for a publication that pretends to be a straight-news outlet. But when it becomes the very thing that Klein’s JournoListers were criticized for (partisan politics in aid of the Obama team under the guise of “journalism”), isn’t it time for the Post to rethink its jump into the leftist blogosphere?

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Chait off the Rails, Even at the Beach

Almost all the TNR crew has leapt off the cliff with Obama on the Ground Zero mosque. But none has leapt farther than Jonathan Chait, or with less candor about his opponents’ arguments. Chait, it seems, spends much time reading our posts and writing about what we think on the topic, which is lovely for our readership stats but odd for one who finds that we’ve “descended” to new lows. (By the way, as John Podhoretz recently pointed out to a group of assembled readers, Chait’s fond memories of COMMENTARY should come as news to those who recall that the left found COMMENTARY every bit as distasteful in the 1970s and 80s as it does now.) Chait checks in from the beach to throw in his latest dose of disdain for all those (Al-Rashid too?) who object to the monument to Islam on Ground Zero.

Chait, once again, flies into a tizzy, this time about my use of the term “Muslim World.” He suggests that in saying Obama preferred the “Muslim World” to America on the mosque, I was referring to the domestic mosque builders, thereby implying that American Muslims aren’t Americans. No, I’m using Obama’s own term and in precisely the same way Obama does — to describe the audience of Muslims in the Middle East and around the globe. My point, one made more compelling by the words of Al-Rashid and other Muslims, is that Obama is acting in ways antithetical to our interests and to those of Muslims not yet caught in the grip of jihadism. He repeatedly favors grand gestures for the consumption of the Muslim World outside the U.S. at the expense of our own values and interests, and in contravention of the overwhelming sentiments of Americans. We can only speculate why he behaves in this fashion.

We have seen this profound error in judgment and strategy from Obama before. Recall that this approach was central to his decision to close Guantanamo, which he explained would make us look better in the eyes of, yes, the Muslim World. We see it in his excising of the term “Islamic fundamentalist” from our government’s vocabulary because he imagines that the Muslim World would be insulted if we point out that extremists in their ranks are responsible for much death and destruction — in Islamic countries as well, for that matter. We saw and heard it in his Cairo speech when Obama served up the Palestinians’ victimology rhetoric while avoiding an honest discussion of the human rights atrocities all too common in the Muslim World. In short, Obama not only pays excessive deference to the Muslim World (at least a certain slice of it) while denigrating his own country; he also manages to fuel Muslim resentment and undermine the voices of moderation both in the U.S. and abroad.

But really, what can Chait expect of “bigots” who ask impertinent questions like: “So, dear Jon Chait and dear Isaac Chotiner, does the Cordoba Initiative at least not give you the creeps?” And just to be clear, since Chait doesn’t always read carefully, there’s nothing bigoted in the least about that query from Chait’s editor, or in the increasingly bipartisan opposition to a mosque that a number of eloquent Muslims — American and otherwise — have voiced.

Nevertheless, it is swell to know our views still command the attention (obsession?) of the left. But some friendly advice to Chait: enjoy your vacation — and rather than blog from the beach, wait to get caught up on the story before your next assault.

Almost all the TNR crew has leapt off the cliff with Obama on the Ground Zero mosque. But none has leapt farther than Jonathan Chait, or with less candor about his opponents’ arguments. Chait, it seems, spends much time reading our posts and writing about what we think on the topic, which is lovely for our readership stats but odd for one who finds that we’ve “descended” to new lows. (By the way, as John Podhoretz recently pointed out to a group of assembled readers, Chait’s fond memories of COMMENTARY should come as news to those who recall that the left found COMMENTARY every bit as distasteful in the 1970s and 80s as it does now.) Chait checks in from the beach to throw in his latest dose of disdain for all those (Al-Rashid too?) who object to the monument to Islam on Ground Zero.

Chait, once again, flies into a tizzy, this time about my use of the term “Muslim World.” He suggests that in saying Obama preferred the “Muslim World” to America on the mosque, I was referring to the domestic mosque builders, thereby implying that American Muslims aren’t Americans. No, I’m using Obama’s own term and in precisely the same way Obama does — to describe the audience of Muslims in the Middle East and around the globe. My point, one made more compelling by the words of Al-Rashid and other Muslims, is that Obama is acting in ways antithetical to our interests and to those of Muslims not yet caught in the grip of jihadism. He repeatedly favors grand gestures for the consumption of the Muslim World outside the U.S. at the expense of our own values and interests, and in contravention of the overwhelming sentiments of Americans. We can only speculate why he behaves in this fashion.

We have seen this profound error in judgment and strategy from Obama before. Recall that this approach was central to his decision to close Guantanamo, which he explained would make us look better in the eyes of, yes, the Muslim World. We see it in his excising of the term “Islamic fundamentalist” from our government’s vocabulary because he imagines that the Muslim World would be insulted if we point out that extremists in their ranks are responsible for much death and destruction — in Islamic countries as well, for that matter. We saw and heard it in his Cairo speech when Obama served up the Palestinians’ victimology rhetoric while avoiding an honest discussion of the human rights atrocities all too common in the Muslim World. In short, Obama not only pays excessive deference to the Muslim World (at least a certain slice of it) while denigrating his own country; he also manages to fuel Muslim resentment and undermine the voices of moderation both in the U.S. and abroad.

But really, what can Chait expect of “bigots” who ask impertinent questions like: “So, dear Jon Chait and dear Isaac Chotiner, does the Cordoba Initiative at least not give you the creeps?” And just to be clear, since Chait doesn’t always read carefully, there’s nothing bigoted in the least about that query from Chait’s editor, or in the increasingly bipartisan opposition to a mosque that a number of eloquent Muslims — American and otherwise — have voiced.

Nevertheless, it is swell to know our views still command the attention (obsession?) of the left. But some friendly advice to Chait: enjoy your vacation — and rather than blog from the beach, wait to get caught up on the story before your next assault.

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Why So Mum, Mr. President?

The Washington Post editors are properly concerned that Gen. David Petraeus is doing a job that should be done primarily by (or at least in concert with) the president:

Gen. Petraeus sought to deliver in interviews over the past few days: The mission isn’t hopeless. Another, though, was that success won’t be easy and that it won’t come in one defining battlefield victory. It will be measured in the gradual strengthening of the ability of Afghanistan’s elected government to provide security for its own people. . . This is an appropriate message for the general to deliver, but he shouldn’t have to do it alone. …

Having formed his policy and committed the U.S. troops needed to implement it, Mr. Obama needs to explain his rationale to the American people, especially to the many doubters within his own party. He needs to do so not once, not twice, but repeatedly. This isn’t Gen. Petraeus’s war, and it’s not even Mr. Obama’s war. It is America’s war — and ultimately, only the president can make that case.

And why hasn’t he? After all, he waxes lyrical on the Ground Zero mosque — well, for a day. He talks frequently about the economic recovery, even if there isn’t much of one. He really gets revved up when castigating the Republicans. Yet he avoids like the plague speaking to the American people and to our allies and enemies, who will be listening in about a critical war (he said) that we must win (he said). Is he uncomfortable exhorting his nation to victory (too much “triumphalism,” as he once sneered about the Iraq war effort)? Does he want to leave himself some wiggle room to reverse course?

It’s a mystery, but more important, it’s a shirking of the responsibility to lead and not just order troops into battle. And although it’s not “Obama’s war,” he will bear the burden of defeat should we not prevail. He should, therefore, if only out of self-interest, try really hard to win this.

The Washington Post editors are properly concerned that Gen. David Petraeus is doing a job that should be done primarily by (or at least in concert with) the president:

Gen. Petraeus sought to deliver in interviews over the past few days: The mission isn’t hopeless. Another, though, was that success won’t be easy and that it won’t come in one defining battlefield victory. It will be measured in the gradual strengthening of the ability of Afghanistan’s elected government to provide security for its own people. . . This is an appropriate message for the general to deliver, but he shouldn’t have to do it alone. …

Having formed his policy and committed the U.S. troops needed to implement it, Mr. Obama needs to explain his rationale to the American people, especially to the many doubters within his own party. He needs to do so not once, not twice, but repeatedly. This isn’t Gen. Petraeus’s war, and it’s not even Mr. Obama’s war. It is America’s war — and ultimately, only the president can make that case.

And why hasn’t he? After all, he waxes lyrical on the Ground Zero mosque — well, for a day. He talks frequently about the economic recovery, even if there isn’t much of one. He really gets revved up when castigating the Republicans. Yet he avoids like the plague speaking to the American people and to our allies and enemies, who will be listening in about a critical war (he said) that we must win (he said). Is he uncomfortable exhorting his nation to victory (too much “triumphalism,” as he once sneered about the Iraq war effort)? Does he want to leave himself some wiggle room to reverse course?

It’s a mystery, but more important, it’s a shirking of the responsibility to lead and not just order troops into battle. And although it’s not “Obama’s war,” he will bear the burden of defeat should we not prevail. He should, therefore, if only out of self-interest, try really hard to win this.

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Ummm … Let’s Say It’s a Conservative Dilemma Too!

Politico pronounces: “The debate over the proposed mosque near ground zero, which has tied Democrats in knots, turns out to be just as tricky for their adversaries on the right—particularly those in the tea party.” This is simply nonsense. In a lengthy article, little support is offered for the assertion that the Tea Party movement is tied up in knots, and absolutely none to demonstrate that it is “just as tricky” for Tea Partiers as it is for Democrats (who are engaged in what the media would refer to as a “civil war” if it were the GOP’s problem).

It seems some Tea Partiers think the Ground Zero mosque is not a Tea Party issue (since the movement generally focuses on economic issues). And some don’t. But where’s the evidence that the percentage of opponents is any lower than the voters at large (68 percent) or that a single Tea Party–backed candidate is out of step with the voters? The best the report can do is this on Rand Paul:

On Monday, a spokesman for the Kentucky Senate campaign of Rand Paul, a tea party standard bearer, issued a statement seeming to beg off the issue by invoking states’ rights. “We don’t want New York intervening in our local Kentucky issues,” read the statement from Gary Howard to a Kentucky political blog, “and we don’t look to interfere with New York’s local issues.”

But asked to clarify Paul’s stance, Howard on Tuesday sent POLITICO a statement emphasizing Paul’s personal opposition.

“While this is a local matter that should be decided by the people of New York, Dr. Paul does not support a mosque being built two blocks from ground zero,” Howard said in the statement. “In Dr. Paul’s opinion, the Muslim community would better serve the healing process by making a donation to the memorial fund for the victims of Sept. 11.”

Well, compared with the White House, this is political sophistication of the highest order. And it sure sounds like Paul is handling it better than Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who seem to have gone into a witness protection program to avoid responding to an issue of deep concern to their electorate.

This sort of moral-equivalence reporting is nothing new for the media. Whenever the Democrats are on the rocks, their media fan club strains to concoct the argument that, oh yes, the Democrats’ great misfortune is not the Democrats’ misfortune alone. It’s the same syndrome we see at work when the media insist that the anti-Democratic sentiment sweeping the country is really anti-incumbent sentiment. If you ignore the historic lead for the GOP in congressional generic polling, Obama’s plummeting approval numbers, the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans, and the rise in support for conservative positions, it almost makes sense.

The “conservatives are in trouble too!” reporting is one of the more transparent gambits the media engage in, and the kind of “journalism” that gives false comfort to the objects of their affection. And in the context of the Ground Zero mosque, I’d wager even the Journolist gang would recommend against it.

Politico pronounces: “The debate over the proposed mosque near ground zero, which has tied Democrats in knots, turns out to be just as tricky for their adversaries on the right—particularly those in the tea party.” This is simply nonsense. In a lengthy article, little support is offered for the assertion that the Tea Party movement is tied up in knots, and absolutely none to demonstrate that it is “just as tricky” for Tea Partiers as it is for Democrats (who are engaged in what the media would refer to as a “civil war” if it were the GOP’s problem).

It seems some Tea Partiers think the Ground Zero mosque is not a Tea Party issue (since the movement generally focuses on economic issues). And some don’t. But where’s the evidence that the percentage of opponents is any lower than the voters at large (68 percent) or that a single Tea Party–backed candidate is out of step with the voters? The best the report can do is this on Rand Paul:

On Monday, a spokesman for the Kentucky Senate campaign of Rand Paul, a tea party standard bearer, issued a statement seeming to beg off the issue by invoking states’ rights. “We don’t want New York intervening in our local Kentucky issues,” read the statement from Gary Howard to a Kentucky political blog, “and we don’t look to interfere with New York’s local issues.”

But asked to clarify Paul’s stance, Howard on Tuesday sent POLITICO a statement emphasizing Paul’s personal opposition.

“While this is a local matter that should be decided by the people of New York, Dr. Paul does not support a mosque being built two blocks from ground zero,” Howard said in the statement. “In Dr. Paul’s opinion, the Muslim community would better serve the healing process by making a donation to the memorial fund for the victims of Sept. 11.”

Well, compared with the White House, this is political sophistication of the highest order. And it sure sounds like Paul is handling it better than Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who seem to have gone into a witness protection program to avoid responding to an issue of deep concern to their electorate.

This sort of moral-equivalence reporting is nothing new for the media. Whenever the Democrats are on the rocks, their media fan club strains to concoct the argument that, oh yes, the Democrats’ great misfortune is not the Democrats’ misfortune alone. It’s the same syndrome we see at work when the media insist that the anti-Democratic sentiment sweeping the country is really anti-incumbent sentiment. If you ignore the historic lead for the GOP in congressional generic polling, Obama’s plummeting approval numbers, the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans, and the rise in support for conservative positions, it almost makes sense.

The “conservatives are in trouble too!” reporting is one of the more transparent gambits the media engage in, and the kind of “journalism” that gives false comfort to the objects of their affection. And in the context of the Ground Zero mosque, I’d wager even the Journolist gang would recommend against it.

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Democratic Mideast Negotiator Joins Mosque Opponents

Joining the ranks of those whom his Democratic colleague have deemed bigots, Aaron David Miller tells us that he doesn’t like the idea of the Ground Zero mosque. And he knows a thing or two about monstrously misplaced symbolism:

If there is one lesson to be learned from the controversy over the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, it is that messing with memory, particularly traumatic memory of the first order, is akin to messing with Mother Nature: It rarely ends well, no matter how good the intention.

I learned this the hard way 12 years ago, when my idea of inviting Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat to visit the Holocaust museum in Washington proved to be a disaster. There is great danger in misappropriating memory and attempting to link it to another agenda or to a tragic historical experience seared in the minds of millions.

His narration of his own experience with disastrous symbolism is refreshingly honest. (“Inviting Arafat to the museum, one of the dumbest ideas in the annals of U.S foreign policy, created a perfect storm. … How I could have believed such an invitation would head any way but south is beyond me.”) And because of this episode,  Miller — unlike the intentionally obtuse left punditocracy — grasps what the Ground Zero mosque is about:

The number of Americans killed on 9/11 was exceeded by only one day in our nation’s history: Sept. 17, 1862, during the battle of Antietam. The events of Sept. 11 are in many ways still untouchable. The risks of linking that day to anything else or confusing it with another issue are vast. However worthy the benefits of promoting interfaith dialogue and greater understanding among Christians, Muslims and Jews, the reality is that the payoff will be small. We meddle in our tragic memories and those of others at our peril.

And let’s be honest: there is no chance any interfaith “dialogue” is going to come of this. It was intended as and certainly has become a provocative act. If you don’t believe me, take the word of two Muslims:

New York currently boasts at least 30 mosques so it’s not as if there is pressing need to find space for worshippers. The fact we Muslims know the idea behind the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation to thumb our noses at the infidel. The proposal has been made in bad faith and in Islamic parlance, such an act is referred to as “Fitna,” meaning “mischief-making” that is clearly forbidden in the Koran.

The Koran commands Muslims to, “Be considerate when you debate with the People of the Book” — i.e., Jews and Christians. Building an exclusive place of worship for Muslims at the place where Muslims killed thousands of New Yorkers is not being considerate or sensitive, it is undoubtedly an act of “fitna.”

The Ground Zero mosque debacle is much worse than Miller’s gaffe, and with far more serious consequences. After all, it’s one thing for a negotiator to make hash out of an Arafat visit; it’s another for the president to reveal that he is utterly clueless about Americans’ sentiments, values, and concerns.

Who would have thought that we’d elect a president who couldn’t go to Israel or Ground Zero without risking boos and catcalls? Yes, it’s come to that.

Joining the ranks of those whom his Democratic colleague have deemed bigots, Aaron David Miller tells us that he doesn’t like the idea of the Ground Zero mosque. And he knows a thing or two about monstrously misplaced symbolism:

If there is one lesson to be learned from the controversy over the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, it is that messing with memory, particularly traumatic memory of the first order, is akin to messing with Mother Nature: It rarely ends well, no matter how good the intention.

I learned this the hard way 12 years ago, when my idea of inviting Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat to visit the Holocaust museum in Washington proved to be a disaster. There is great danger in misappropriating memory and attempting to link it to another agenda or to a tragic historical experience seared in the minds of millions.

His narration of his own experience with disastrous symbolism is refreshingly honest. (“Inviting Arafat to the museum, one of the dumbest ideas in the annals of U.S foreign policy, created a perfect storm. … How I could have believed such an invitation would head any way but south is beyond me.”) And because of this episode,  Miller — unlike the intentionally obtuse left punditocracy — grasps what the Ground Zero mosque is about:

The number of Americans killed on 9/11 was exceeded by only one day in our nation’s history: Sept. 17, 1862, during the battle of Antietam. The events of Sept. 11 are in many ways still untouchable. The risks of linking that day to anything else or confusing it with another issue are vast. However worthy the benefits of promoting interfaith dialogue and greater understanding among Christians, Muslims and Jews, the reality is that the payoff will be small. We meddle in our tragic memories and those of others at our peril.

And let’s be honest: there is no chance any interfaith “dialogue” is going to come of this. It was intended as and certainly has become a provocative act. If you don’t believe me, take the word of two Muslims:

New York currently boasts at least 30 mosques so it’s not as if there is pressing need to find space for worshippers. The fact we Muslims know the idea behind the Ground Zero mosque is meant to be a deliberate provocation to thumb our noses at the infidel. The proposal has been made in bad faith and in Islamic parlance, such an act is referred to as “Fitna,” meaning “mischief-making” that is clearly forbidden in the Koran.

The Koran commands Muslims to, “Be considerate when you debate with the People of the Book” — i.e., Jews and Christians. Building an exclusive place of worship for Muslims at the place where Muslims killed thousands of New Yorkers is not being considerate or sensitive, it is undoubtedly an act of “fitna.”

The Ground Zero mosque debacle is much worse than Miller’s gaffe, and with far more serious consequences. After all, it’s one thing for a negotiator to make hash out of an Arafat visit; it’s another for the president to reveal that he is utterly clueless about Americans’ sentiments, values, and concerns.

Who would have thought that we’d elect a president who couldn’t go to Israel or Ground Zero without risking boos and catcalls? Yes, it’s come to that.

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Nothing to See, Move Along

Howard Kurtz can’t understand what all the fuss over the Ground Zero mosque is about:

It seems to me a colossal waste of time, a huge expenditure of national energy over something that is ultimately symbolic, and which government doesn’t have the power to stop anyway (since the planners have obtained the necessary New York City approvals). It is as if the country’s agenda has been reduced to a noisy cable TV debate.

Umm, I think it’s a “teachable moment” — a crystallizing event that gives insight into or confirms our understanding of the president, elite opinion makers, the jihadist enemy we face, and what constitutes a “moderate Muslim.” Oh, and it’s become another issue dividing Democrats, undermining the president’s stature, and contributing to the election wipeout on the horizon. Yeah, not a big deal.

Maybe what Kurtz and certainly what the left punditocracy are saying is that it would be swell if the whole thing just went away. (Like the New Black Panther scandal! Which by the way has also disappeared from liberal media outlets after a brief effort at damage control for their non-coverage of another story deemed “unimportant.”) The mosque controversy is messy. It is divisive. It is uncontrollable by the mainstream media. It is downright inconvenient for those who would prefer the public not be so noisy and the conflict between the elites and the public so stark. But it sure is news, as important and possibly decisive an event as we have seen in the Obama presidency.

Howard Kurtz can’t understand what all the fuss over the Ground Zero mosque is about:

It seems to me a colossal waste of time, a huge expenditure of national energy over something that is ultimately symbolic, and which government doesn’t have the power to stop anyway (since the planners have obtained the necessary New York City approvals). It is as if the country’s agenda has been reduced to a noisy cable TV debate.

Umm, I think it’s a “teachable moment” — a crystallizing event that gives insight into or confirms our understanding of the president, elite opinion makers, the jihadist enemy we face, and what constitutes a “moderate Muslim.” Oh, and it’s become another issue dividing Democrats, undermining the president’s stature, and contributing to the election wipeout on the horizon. Yeah, not a big deal.

Maybe what Kurtz and certainly what the left punditocracy are saying is that it would be swell if the whole thing just went away. (Like the New Black Panther scandal! Which by the way has also disappeared from liberal media outlets after a brief effort at damage control for their non-coverage of another story deemed “unimportant.”) The mosque controversy is messy. It is divisive. It is uncontrollable by the mainstream media. It is downright inconvenient for those who would prefer the public not be so noisy and the conflict between the elites and the public so stark. But it sure is news, as important and possibly decisive an event as we have seen in the Obama presidency.

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Disagreement or Different? Up or Down?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a well-known and fiercely independent individual, has exercised his right – the one written into the DNA of the living document that governs us – to disagree with President Obama about the Ground Zero mosque, issuing a statement that it should be built elsewhere. Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton was asked about it this morning:

Q Can you talk about Senator Reid’s disagreeing with the President on the mosque issue? Has the President spoken to him? Did Reid’s people give you guys a heads-up about that? What was his reaction?

MR. BURTON: We did have a sense that that’s what they were going to do. But if you look at what the President said on Friday night, he respects the right of anybody — Democrat, Republican, independent — to disagree with his opinion on this. That’s one of the other fundamental rights written into the DNA of our Constitution.

Senator Reid is a fiercely independent individual; it’s one of his strengths as a leader of the Democratic Party. So the President feels completely fine that he might disagree.

But wait a minute – didn’t the president clarify his remarks, so that he took no position on the location of the mosque? Burton was asked whether he, in fact, viewed the president and Reid as disagreeing:

MR. BURTON: Well, the statements are different. What the President said was that he thinks that there’s a fundamental right for individuals and groups to be treated equally. But the President, like he said on Saturday, didn’t comment specifically on whether or not he was pushing for the site to actually to be put in that spot. Senator Reid’s comment was he thinks that it shouldn’t be.

Q So it is a different statement. It’s a different statement — do they agree? Do they disagree?

MR. BURTON: I’ll leave it to the smart guys like you, Chuck, to decide whether or not that means disagreement or different statement or what’s up and what’s down. But it’s a different take on this issue.

Maybe Sarah Palin can figure this out.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a well-known and fiercely independent individual, has exercised his right – the one written into the DNA of the living document that governs us – to disagree with President Obama about the Ground Zero mosque, issuing a statement that it should be built elsewhere. Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton was asked about it this morning:

Q Can you talk about Senator Reid’s disagreeing with the President on the mosque issue? Has the President spoken to him? Did Reid’s people give you guys a heads-up about that? What was his reaction?

MR. BURTON: We did have a sense that that’s what they were going to do. But if you look at what the President said on Friday night, he respects the right of anybody — Democrat, Republican, independent — to disagree with his opinion on this. That’s one of the other fundamental rights written into the DNA of our Constitution.

Senator Reid is a fiercely independent individual; it’s one of his strengths as a leader of the Democratic Party. So the President feels completely fine that he might disagree.

But wait a minute – didn’t the president clarify his remarks, so that he took no position on the location of the mosque? Burton was asked whether he, in fact, viewed the president and Reid as disagreeing:

MR. BURTON: Well, the statements are different. What the President said was that he thinks that there’s a fundamental right for individuals and groups to be treated equally. But the President, like he said on Saturday, didn’t comment specifically on whether or not he was pushing for the site to actually to be put in that spot. Senator Reid’s comment was he thinks that it shouldn’t be.

Q So it is a different statement. It’s a different statement — do they agree? Do they disagree?

MR. BURTON: I’ll leave it to the smart guys like you, Chuck, to decide whether or not that means disagreement or different statement or what’s up and what’s down. But it’s a different take on this issue.

Maybe Sarah Palin can figure this out.

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Obama’s Muslim Problem

Ben Smith relates an interesting Tweet from Tim Pawlenty: “To improve USA’s relations with peaceful Muslims, Obama should tout our relief efforts in Pakistan floods; not defend Ground Zero mosque.” Well, that would be nice, but highly unlikely.

Pawlenty got me thinking about why it is that Obama does not conceive of Muslim outreach as an opportunity to inject some much needed accuracy and balance into societies saturated with anti-Israel and anti-American propaganda and which lack a free press. Why did he not, for example, in his first video valentine to the mullahs and the Iranian people, explain the blood and treasure we have expended to defend Muslims? Why does he prefer to commiserate with Muslim leaders (who all too often wallow in victimology) rather than champion the cause of Muslim human-rights activists and democracy promoters? Why didn’t he confront Palestinian rejectionism in his Cairo speech?

There are a couple of possible explanations. First, he is, we re-learn every day, a garden-variety leftist. The narrative of Third World victimhood and Western oppression is one he finds comfortable, notwithstanding its inapplicability to a variety of settings. (In his Cairo speech Palestinians were transformed into enslaved African American slaves, who, of course, were not repeatedly offered their own state.)

The other, suggested by a reader, may also be true: he learned about the “Muslim World” not from his childhood in Indonesia but from extremists, like former PLO-spokesman Rashid Khalidi, who have “educated” Obama for years about the Palestinians’ plight, attributed to American indifference and Israeli “oppression” rather than their own refusal to renounce violence and to the cynical manipulation of Arab states. Obama himself acknowledged the deep influence on his thinking:

His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases. … It’s for that reason that I’m hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation — a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table,” but around “this entire world.”

Now, these are not mutually exclusive explanations. Whatever the root causes or motivations, over the last 18 months we’ve seen that Obama has been spectacularly unwilling to confront radical Islamists (even to call them that) and all too anxious to promote sentiments in the Muslim community which are counterproductive both for those trying to battle against the forces of radicalism and for the U.S. For someone who fancies himself as the Explainer in Chief with regard to Islam, he certainly could use some fresh thinking.

Ben Smith relates an interesting Tweet from Tim Pawlenty: “To improve USA’s relations with peaceful Muslims, Obama should tout our relief efforts in Pakistan floods; not defend Ground Zero mosque.” Well, that would be nice, but highly unlikely.

Pawlenty got me thinking about why it is that Obama does not conceive of Muslim outreach as an opportunity to inject some much needed accuracy and balance into societies saturated with anti-Israel and anti-American propaganda and which lack a free press. Why did he not, for example, in his first video valentine to the mullahs and the Iranian people, explain the blood and treasure we have expended to defend Muslims? Why does he prefer to commiserate with Muslim leaders (who all too often wallow in victimology) rather than champion the cause of Muslim human-rights activists and democracy promoters? Why didn’t he confront Palestinian rejectionism in his Cairo speech?

There are a couple of possible explanations. First, he is, we re-learn every day, a garden-variety leftist. The narrative of Third World victimhood and Western oppression is one he finds comfortable, notwithstanding its inapplicability to a variety of settings. (In his Cairo speech Palestinians were transformed into enslaved African American slaves, who, of course, were not repeatedly offered their own state.)

The other, suggested by a reader, may also be true: he learned about the “Muslim World” not from his childhood in Indonesia but from extremists, like former PLO-spokesman Rashid Khalidi, who have “educated” Obama for years about the Palestinians’ plight, attributed to American indifference and Israeli “oppression” rather than their own refusal to renounce violence and to the cynical manipulation of Arab states. Obama himself acknowledged the deep influence on his thinking:

His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases. … It’s for that reason that I’m hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation — a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table,” but around “this entire world.”

Now, these are not mutually exclusive explanations. Whatever the root causes or motivations, over the last 18 months we’ve seen that Obama has been spectacularly unwilling to confront radical Islamists (even to call them that) and all too anxious to promote sentiments in the Muslim community which are counterproductive both for those trying to battle against the forces of radicalism and for the U.S. For someone who fancies himself as the Explainer in Chief with regard to Islam, he certainly could use some fresh thinking.

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Democratic Senate Candidates vs. Harry Reid and 68% of America

Harry Reid was trying to save himself, and perhaps some of his colleagues, when he broke with Obama over the Ground Zero mosque. But some Senate contenders simply can’t be helped and have doubled down.

In Illinois:

Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias said Tuesday during a visit to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield that he supports the mosque site. He says while he sympathizes with those who lost loved ones, Americans must stand up for freedom of religion even when it’s difficult.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Mark Kirk’s campaign said in a statement that he thinks placing the mosque near Ground Zero causes relatives of the victims “undue pain” and the mosque should move to a “less controversial site.”

In Pennsylvania:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled Tuesday to Pennsylvania to endorse Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Sestak, bringing along with him the politically volatile controversy surrounding the proposed mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero. . .

In Philadelphia this morning, [Joe] Sestak … said he wasn’t too troubled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s statement on Monday opposing the location of the proposed Islamic center. “As you know, I haven’t taken very good direction yet from party leadership,” he said.

When asked if he’s sensitive to the families of those who died on 9/11, Sestak spoke passionately: “When I walked out of that Pentagon, 30 people who I knew never walked out of that building.”

“My 9/11 is that Pentagon,” he said. “Am I sensitive to (the family’s) desires? Sure, I am.” But Sestak said the concept of religious freedom is what is “most important” in this debate.

Now that’s interesting. At the Pentagon, contrary to the claims of  some mosque supporters (including Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose district includes Ground Zero), there is no mosque. ABC News clarifies:

Sometimes misidentified as the “Pentagon Mosque,” the non-denominational Pentagon Memorial Chapel maintained by the Pentagon Chaplain’s Office is where department employees who practice Islam can meet to pray. Located at the site where the hijacked American Airlines flight 74 struck the Defense Department headquarters, the chapel honors the memory of the 184 victims of the 9/11 attack. The 100-seat chapel is available to Pentagon employees of all faiths to come in prayer as they wish throughout the day. …

Dedicated in November 2002, after the reconstruction of the section of the building struck in the Sept. 11 attack, the Pentagon chapel honors the memory of the 184 victims who were killed there or were passengers aboard the hijacked jetliner. Behind the chapel’s altar is a lit stained-glass window, in the shape of the Pentagon, that bears the inscription, “United in Memory, September 11, 2001.” No religious icons or pictures are on display at the chapel. Religious symbols are brought in for religious services. A Torah, for example, housed in an ornate ark, is brought from behind curtains for use in the weekly Jewish service.

You’d think a Pentagon man would see a place of worship of this sort, rather than a 13-story monument to Islam, as the appropriate model for a 9/11 site.

Will the Ground Zero mosque be the defining issue in the 2010 campaign? Maybe not, but it’s the last thing Democrats (some of whom are trying to shed the image that they are too far left even for Blue States) needed. Meanwhile, Obama’s disapproval rating in Gallup’s poll ticked up to 51 percent, a new high. Might it be a better strategy for Democrats not to follow Obama over the political cliff?

Harry Reid was trying to save himself, and perhaps some of his colleagues, when he broke with Obama over the Ground Zero mosque. But some Senate contenders simply can’t be helped and have doubled down.

In Illinois:

Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias said Tuesday during a visit to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield that he supports the mosque site. He says while he sympathizes with those who lost loved ones, Americans must stand up for freedom of religion even when it’s difficult.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Mark Kirk’s campaign said in a statement that he thinks placing the mosque near Ground Zero causes relatives of the victims “undue pain” and the mosque should move to a “less controversial site.”

In Pennsylvania:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled Tuesday to Pennsylvania to endorse Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Sestak, bringing along with him the politically volatile controversy surrounding the proposed mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero. . .

In Philadelphia this morning, [Joe] Sestak … said he wasn’t too troubled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s statement on Monday opposing the location of the proposed Islamic center. “As you know, I haven’t taken very good direction yet from party leadership,” he said.

When asked if he’s sensitive to the families of those who died on 9/11, Sestak spoke passionately: “When I walked out of that Pentagon, 30 people who I knew never walked out of that building.”

“My 9/11 is that Pentagon,” he said. “Am I sensitive to (the family’s) desires? Sure, I am.” But Sestak said the concept of religious freedom is what is “most important” in this debate.

Now that’s interesting. At the Pentagon, contrary to the claims of  some mosque supporters (including Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose district includes Ground Zero), there is no mosque. ABC News clarifies:

Sometimes misidentified as the “Pentagon Mosque,” the non-denominational Pentagon Memorial Chapel maintained by the Pentagon Chaplain’s Office is where department employees who practice Islam can meet to pray. Located at the site where the hijacked American Airlines flight 74 struck the Defense Department headquarters, the chapel honors the memory of the 184 victims of the 9/11 attack. The 100-seat chapel is available to Pentagon employees of all faiths to come in prayer as they wish throughout the day. …

Dedicated in November 2002, after the reconstruction of the section of the building struck in the Sept. 11 attack, the Pentagon chapel honors the memory of the 184 victims who were killed there or were passengers aboard the hijacked jetliner. Behind the chapel’s altar is a lit stained-glass window, in the shape of the Pentagon, that bears the inscription, “United in Memory, September 11, 2001.” No religious icons or pictures are on display at the chapel. Religious symbols are brought in for religious services. A Torah, for example, housed in an ornate ark, is brought from behind curtains for use in the weekly Jewish service.

You’d think a Pentagon man would see a place of worship of this sort, rather than a 13-story monument to Islam, as the appropriate model for a 9/11 site.

Will the Ground Zero mosque be the defining issue in the 2010 campaign? Maybe not, but it’s the last thing Democrats (some of whom are trying to shed the image that they are too far left even for Blue States) needed. Meanwhile, Obama’s disapproval rating in Gallup’s poll ticked up to 51 percent, a new high. Might it be a better strategy for Democrats not to follow Obama over the political cliff?

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Why Didn’t Obama Grasp What the Ground Zero Mosque Is All About?

Bill Kristol reports that a major Muslim figure is coming out against the Ground Zero mosque. In London’s newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid, director of Al-Arabiya TV and  the previous editor of the paper, explains why the mosque should not be build at Ground Zero:

I cannot imagine that Muslims want a mosque on this particular site, because it will be turned into an arena for promoters of hatred, and a symbol of those who committed the crime. At the same time, there are no practicing Muslims in the district who need a place of worship, because it is indeed a commercial district. … The last thing Muslims want today is to build just a religious center out of defiance to the others, or a symbolic mosque that people visit as a museum next to a cemetery. …  The battle against the September 11 terrorists is a Muslim battle … and this battle still is ablaze in more than 20 Muslim countries. Some Muslims will consider that building a mosque on this site immortalizes and commemorates what was done by the terrorists who committed their crime in the name of Islam. I do not think that the majority of Muslims want to build a symbol or a worship place that tomorrow might become a place about which the terrorists and their Muslim followers boast, and which will become a shrine for Islam haters whose aim is to turn the public opinion against Islam.

This is extraordinary on many levels.

First, as Bill points out, the Ground Zero mosque is likely kaput. If even a prominent Muslim can articulate why it’s such a bad idea, it seems as though the political pressure will mount, and the funders may sense that their project has revealed them not to be the face of moderation but rather provocateurs and promoters of religious strife.

Second, it reveals that Imam Rauf is no “moderate” and that his liberal cheerleaders have a deficient understanding of the range of opinion within the “Muslim World.” The left chose to champion someone who was blind or indifferent to the damage he was causing to the alleged goal of “religious reconciliation.” The chattering class labeled as “bigots” the mosque opponents, who voiced precisely the same objections as Al-Rashid. Is Al-Rashid a bigot, too?

Third, and most important, it reveals how lacking in sophistication about the Muslim World, about which he claims great expertise, is Obama. Why wasn’t he making Al-Rashid’s argument? Why didn’t he stand up for those Muslims who truly understand that “building a mosque on this site immortalizes and commemorates what was done by the terrorists who committed their crime in the name of Islam”? Perhaps Obama’s understanding of the Muslim World isn’t as nuanced as his boosters claim. Maybe his default position is to capitulate to whatever the left’s Islamic pets of the moment want (e.g., flotilla “activists,” the PA, the mosque builders).

I think it is safe to say that all of the Democrats and liberal pundits (yes, more overlap) who posited that the mosque’s opponents were engaged in the sort of bigotry that “has always fueled pogroms and race riots” (that’s the genius of Richard Cohen) were themselves not as enlightened as second America. The latter, like Al-Rashid, correctly grasped that the majority of Muslims might not “want to build a symbol or a worship place that tomorrow might become a place about which the terrorists and their Muslim followers boast, and which will become a shrine for Islam haters whose aim is to turn the public opinion against Islam.” It’s reassuring to know that 68 percent (I suspect that number will go up soon) of Americans got it right and demonstrated (again) why the common sense of average voters is infinitely more valuable that the spewing of the elite class.

Bill Kristol reports that a major Muslim figure is coming out against the Ground Zero mosque. In London’s newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid, director of Al-Arabiya TV and  the previous editor of the paper, explains why the mosque should not be build at Ground Zero:

I cannot imagine that Muslims want a mosque on this particular site, because it will be turned into an arena for promoters of hatred, and a symbol of those who committed the crime. At the same time, there are no practicing Muslims in the district who need a place of worship, because it is indeed a commercial district. … The last thing Muslims want today is to build just a religious center out of defiance to the others, or a symbolic mosque that people visit as a museum next to a cemetery. …  The battle against the September 11 terrorists is a Muslim battle … and this battle still is ablaze in more than 20 Muslim countries. Some Muslims will consider that building a mosque on this site immortalizes and commemorates what was done by the terrorists who committed their crime in the name of Islam. I do not think that the majority of Muslims want to build a symbol or a worship place that tomorrow might become a place about which the terrorists and their Muslim followers boast, and which will become a shrine for Islam haters whose aim is to turn the public opinion against Islam.

This is extraordinary on many levels.

First, as Bill points out, the Ground Zero mosque is likely kaput. If even a prominent Muslim can articulate why it’s such a bad idea, it seems as though the political pressure will mount, and the funders may sense that their project has revealed them not to be the face of moderation but rather provocateurs and promoters of religious strife.

Second, it reveals that Imam Rauf is no “moderate” and that his liberal cheerleaders have a deficient understanding of the range of opinion within the “Muslim World.” The left chose to champion someone who was blind or indifferent to the damage he was causing to the alleged goal of “religious reconciliation.” The chattering class labeled as “bigots” the mosque opponents, who voiced precisely the same objections as Al-Rashid. Is Al-Rashid a bigot, too?

Third, and most important, it reveals how lacking in sophistication about the Muslim World, about which he claims great expertise, is Obama. Why wasn’t he making Al-Rashid’s argument? Why didn’t he stand up for those Muslims who truly understand that “building a mosque on this site immortalizes and commemorates what was done by the terrorists who committed their crime in the name of Islam”? Perhaps Obama’s understanding of the Muslim World isn’t as nuanced as his boosters claim. Maybe his default position is to capitulate to whatever the left’s Islamic pets of the moment want (e.g., flotilla “activists,” the PA, the mosque builders).

I think it is safe to say that all of the Democrats and liberal pundits (yes, more overlap) who posited that the mosque’s opponents were engaged in the sort of bigotry that “has always fueled pogroms and race riots” (that’s the genius of Richard Cohen) were themselves not as enlightened as second America. The latter, like Al-Rashid, correctly grasped that the majority of Muslims might not “want to build a symbol or a worship place that tomorrow might become a place about which the terrorists and their Muslim followers boast, and which will become a shrine for Islam haters whose aim is to turn the public opinion against Islam.” It’s reassuring to know that 68 percent (I suspect that number will go up soon) of Americans got it right and demonstrated (again) why the common sense of average voters is infinitely more valuable that the spewing of the elite class.

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But Where Is Chuck Schumer?

Politico reports that a bunch of New York Democratic congressional candidates are breaking with Obama and urging the Ground Zero mosque go somewhere else. I eagerly await their vilification as “bigots” by the left blogosphere.

But this certainly shines a spotlight on the two Democratic senators. Where are Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand? I don’t think they can get through the next few months — she on the ballot, and he as head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee — without making clear their views.Really, it does sort of undermine the whole “first America” and “second America” construct if everyone, except the elite media and the president, is racing into the second America camp.

Politico reports that a bunch of New York Democratic congressional candidates are breaking with Obama and urging the Ground Zero mosque go somewhere else. I eagerly await their vilification as “bigots” by the left blogosphere.

But this certainly shines a spotlight on the two Democratic senators. Where are Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand? I don’t think they can get through the next few months — she on the ballot, and he as head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee — without making clear their views.Really, it does sort of undermine the whole “first America” and “second America” construct if everyone, except the elite media and the president, is racing into the second America camp.

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Let Me Clarify My Clarification of My Clear Remarks

Barack Obama’s clarification of his “let me be clear” statement on the Ground Zero mosque (and subsequent clarification of his clarification) is reminiscent of his 2008 “let me be clear” statement on Jerusalem — when he told 7,000 people at AIPAC that the city “must remain undivided” and then repeatedly clarified his “poor phrasing,” finally endorsing a divided Jerusalem while claiming he had not backtracked from his initial statement.

Students of foreign policy may be bemused and somewhat alarmed to see this happening again. In both cases, Obama’s statements were prepared remarks on an important issue with foreign-policy implications, followed by retreats in the face of criticism, followed by denials that they were retreats, amid widespread recognition that they were, in fact, retreats. It was not an attractive quality in a candidate, and it is a dangerous one in a president.

Sarah Palin noted on her Facebook page that we “all know they have the right to do it [build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3,000 people], but should they?” She suggested the president endorse the New York governor’s offer of assistance for finding an alternative location. The New York Sun editorialized that she had made a practical proposal while speaking more forthrightly than the famously eloquent president, raising this question:

How did one of the most intellectual presidents in history, a constitutional law professor with a government-provided staff of legal experts and policy geniuses and an ability, rarely if ever matched, to speak in lofty tones, manage to get himself in a position where he will end up following the lead of an ex-governor who has been constantly set down by the left as but a one-time beauty queen without brains and who has been watching the whole fracas from a lake-side camp at Alaska?

Possibly one of them was overrated and the other underrated back in 2008, particularly in light of the respective offices for which they were running. It may have had something to do with a media organizing itself to push a misleading narrative. I want to go on record as supporting the constitutional right to build the Ground Zero mosque while clarifying that I do not necessarily mean it is a wise use of rights. Is there an award for courageous blogging?

Barack Obama’s clarification of his “let me be clear” statement on the Ground Zero mosque (and subsequent clarification of his clarification) is reminiscent of his 2008 “let me be clear” statement on Jerusalem — when he told 7,000 people at AIPAC that the city “must remain undivided” and then repeatedly clarified his “poor phrasing,” finally endorsing a divided Jerusalem while claiming he had not backtracked from his initial statement.

Students of foreign policy may be bemused and somewhat alarmed to see this happening again. In both cases, Obama’s statements were prepared remarks on an important issue with foreign-policy implications, followed by retreats in the face of criticism, followed by denials that they were retreats, amid widespread recognition that they were, in fact, retreats. It was not an attractive quality in a candidate, and it is a dangerous one in a president.

Sarah Palin noted on her Facebook page that we “all know they have the right to do it [build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3,000 people], but should they?” She suggested the president endorse the New York governor’s offer of assistance for finding an alternative location. The New York Sun editorialized that she had made a practical proposal while speaking more forthrightly than the famously eloquent president, raising this question:

How did one of the most intellectual presidents in history, a constitutional law professor with a government-provided staff of legal experts and policy geniuses and an ability, rarely if ever matched, to speak in lofty tones, manage to get himself in a position where he will end up following the lead of an ex-governor who has been constantly set down by the left as but a one-time beauty queen without brains and who has been watching the whole fracas from a lake-side camp at Alaska?

Possibly one of them was overrated and the other underrated back in 2008, particularly in light of the respective offices for which they were running. It may have had something to do with a media organizing itself to push a misleading narrative. I want to go on record as supporting the constitutional right to build the Ground Zero mosque while clarifying that I do not necessarily mean it is a wise use of rights. Is there an award for courageous blogging?

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Endorsed by the Mosque Builders’ Cheerleader

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who not only defended the Ground Zero mosque but also told its critics to shut up, is going to Pennsylvania today to endorse Rep. Joe Sestak. Honest. Sestak, who is fending off attacks that he is too liberal on a range of issues, is anti-Israel in his voting record, and who keynoted for CAIR, is now, in the midst of a fever-pitch debate about Cordoba House, going to get the blessing of the mayor who managed to infuriate even liberal New Yorkers.

I suppose Sestak could criticize Bloomberg, J Street, Obama, and CAIR — all of whom support both his candidacy and the mosque — but that would certainly come as a shock to those who’ve been supporting him and raising money for campaign. Meanwhile, Pat Toomey’s director of communications, Nachama Soloveichik, had this statement when I asked about his views: “It is provocative in the extreme to build a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero. Islamic leaders should be encouraged to move the mosque elsewhere.” A fine suggestion — Rep. Sestak, what say you? So far, he’s waffling:

A spokesman for Sestak said the congressman “believes there is a Constitutional right to religious freedom and separation of church and state that applies equally to all Americans,” but he declined to clearly back the plan.

Sooner or later, he and other Democrats will be forced to answer — for or against the mosque? It’s not like it’s a hard question or one that lacks national significance. After all, Gov. Bob McDonnell had no problem stating his views: “If it were my decision, I would not put that center there. It is a site where nearly 3,000 people lost their lives and I certainly would not locate that center there if I had a voice.” Eventually Sestak will have to either alienate his lefty, pro-mosque supporters or the people of Pennsylvania. Not sure which he’ll choose.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who not only defended the Ground Zero mosque but also told its critics to shut up, is going to Pennsylvania today to endorse Rep. Joe Sestak. Honest. Sestak, who is fending off attacks that he is too liberal on a range of issues, is anti-Israel in his voting record, and who keynoted for CAIR, is now, in the midst of a fever-pitch debate about Cordoba House, going to get the blessing of the mayor who managed to infuriate even liberal New Yorkers.

I suppose Sestak could criticize Bloomberg, J Street, Obama, and CAIR — all of whom support both his candidacy and the mosque — but that would certainly come as a shock to those who’ve been supporting him and raising money for campaign. Meanwhile, Pat Toomey’s director of communications, Nachama Soloveichik, had this statement when I asked about his views: “It is provocative in the extreme to build a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero. Islamic leaders should be encouraged to move the mosque elsewhere.” A fine suggestion — Rep. Sestak, what say you? So far, he’s waffling:

A spokesman for Sestak said the congressman “believes there is a Constitutional right to religious freedom and separation of church and state that applies equally to all Americans,” but he declined to clearly back the plan.

Sooner or later, he and other Democrats will be forced to answer — for or against the mosque? It’s not like it’s a hard question or one that lacks national significance. After all, Gov. Bob McDonnell had no problem stating his views: “If it were my decision, I would not put that center there. It is a site where nearly 3,000 people lost their lives and I certainly would not locate that center there if I had a voice.” Eventually Sestak will have to either alienate his lefty, pro-mosque supporters or the people of Pennsylvania. Not sure which he’ll choose.

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