Late this past Friday Barack Obama handed the keys to the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to the Republicans. By Saturday, Barack Obama was trying to take the keys back.
Of the many explanations for Barack Obama’s odd behavior this weekend there is one not a single person has commented on. There were comparisons to the Beer Summit fiasco. But the most similar flim-flam has not been mentioned.
It was the Jeremiah Wright “race” speech all over again. In the Obama “race” speech Obama distracted from his 20 plus years of sniveling at the knees of Jeremiah Wright. Instead of addressing why he attended the “God Damn America” preacher’s sermons Obama instead emitted a “teachable moment” about race. Aided and abetted by the JournoLister Big Media wing of his campaign, Barack Obama got away with his wrong Wright distraction.
But on Friday, Barack Obama tried to distract from the central issue – the propriety of a towering Mosque at the 9/11 Ground Zero doom site – with a “race” speech style “teachable moment” on religious freedom and tolerance. This time the organized Big Media JournoListers could not muster sufficient shiny objects with which to aid and abet Barack Obama’s attempted distraction.
Not that they did not try. JournoLister Greg Sargent twisted himself from senseless to senseless with grotesque rationalizations. Fellow JournoLister Ben Smith noted that Greg Sargent had tried “valiantly to split the baby“.
Sargent on Saturday called “Obama’s forceful speech” on Friday, a speech “which will go down as one of the finest moments of his presidency”. The sad and laughable rationale for the JournoLister’s praise was because “Obama didn’t just stand up for the legal right of the group to build the Islamic center. He voiced powerful support for their moral right to do so as well, casting it as central to American identity.” A commenter almost immediately noted that “‘”one of the finest moments of Obama’s Presidency” needed to be “clarified” less that 12 hours later.’ Sargent embarrassed himself in an extraordinary way, but misery had company.
Obama said on Friday: “As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.” Such a clear and direct statement for the Mosque of Doom elicited this shriek of joy from JournoLister Sargent: “… this couldn’t have come at a better time for Obama. His core supporters, frustrated, were badly in need of a display of presidential spine. They got one.”
Such gallantry! Such spine!
At DireFog too, there was exultation before the “clarification”. Interrupting a Robert Gibbs ordered drug test, Glenn Greenwald embarrassed himself with this hosanna: “one of the most impressive and commendable things Obama has done since being inaugurated.” Having tested “positive” on the drug test, Greenwald later ate crow and humble pie:
“But clearly, the tone and the emphasis of his speech — and the absence of the fine distinctions he’s drawing today — made it obvious that it would be interpreted as siding with the mosque proponents and against those opposing the mosque, and that’s exactly how it was interpreted by virtually everyone.
But by insisting now that he was merely commenting on the technical “rights” of the project developers — as a way of responding to Republican criticism that he was advocating for the project itself — he has diminished his remarks from a courageous and inspiring act into a non sequitur, somewhat of an irrelevancy. After all, the “right” of the mosque isn’t really in question and didn’t need a defense. As Ben Smith correctly explains: Obama’s new remarks, literally speaking, re-open the question of which side he’s on. Most of the mosque’s foes recognize the legal right to build, and have asked the builders to reconsider. [snip]
The signal Obama sent with his rhetoric last night wasn’t that he had chosen to make a trivial, legal point about the First Amendment. He chose to make headlines in support of the mosque project, and he won’t be able to walk them back now with this sprinkling of doubt. [snip]
Even worse, the primary focus of my praise here — that Obama was taking a politically unpopular position — isn’t even true in light of this clarification. As Nate Silver documents, the same polls which show that large majorities oppose the mosque also show that majorities affirm the “right” for it to be built. That means Obama was merely echoing what polls show is the majority view, while explicitly distancing himself today from any view that is unpopular. So even that praise of him now seems inapplicable.”
From courage to cowardice in so short a time. The fact is that this was just another Obama attempt to bamboozle and distract. The JournoListers are in a shrinking CabaList and could not aid and abet in another successful Jeremiah Wright style distraction.
Democrat Ricki Lieberman, via email, spoke for many Democrats in opposition to the Mosque of Doom:
“My POV: building a 13+ story mosque/community center overlooking the graveyard that was the Twin Towers is not a matter of religious freedom or tolerance. It is a matter of appropriateness and sensitivity. [snip]
The unwillingness of the development group to make provisions to reveal the sources of funds, suggests they have something to hide. If they are so eager to emulate the 92nd St YMHA or the JCC of Manhattan, they should adopt the same transparent fundraising procedures that these and other groups use for capital campaigns.
New York is basically a Muslim-friendly town, with mosques everywhere. I reject those who have seized on this issue to question the right or ability of Muslims to grow in New York. Freedom of religion is alive and well in New York, and I also question those who insist that this is a core issue of religious freedom and would make those of us who disagree into bigots.“
Indeed, the latest defense of the Mosque of Doom is that it is akin to the YMCA. However, this is a view fermented in ignorance. Every mosque is a “community center” (“The mosque serves as a place where Muslims can come together for salat (prayer) (Arabic: صلاة, ṣalāt) as well as a center for information, education, and dispute settlement.“) But a community center strictly for Muslims. As is well known to fans of the probably defunct disco group the “Village People” the YMCA welcomes Gay people. The YMCA welcomes Jews, Buddhists, Jains, Pagans, and Muslims. We somehow doubt that the swimming pool at the Mosque of Doom will have a welcoming swim for infidels. Muslims must be free to determine how their mosques conduct their business, but the “community center” defense is a shallow pool to swim in.
“Let’s not forget that a mosque is an exclusive place of worship for Muslims and not an inviting community centre. Most Americans are wary of mosques due to the hard core rhetoric that is used in pulpits. And rightly so. As Muslims we are dismayed that our co-religionists have such little consideration for their fellow citizens and wish to rub salt in their wounds and pretend they are applying a balm to sooth the pain.“
As the JournoListers retreated to their bars and watering holes to concoct more YMCA style defenses, Obama Dimocrats ran out of the scalding pool of stench Obama drenched them in. Politico tracked the comedic results:
“With the exception of Rep. Jerrold Nadler, I haven’t gotten a single response from the N.Y. congressional delegation I reached out to about the president’s speech, but I have heard from multiple Democratic sources that some have privately expressed a sense of discomfort about the topic, and to some extent, the mosque project.[snip]
If so, it’s a bracing moment for New York, among the bluest states in the land and one that prides itself on thriving multiculturalism and attempts at tolerance, and a reminder of how complicated the emotions are for many people within some level of proximity of ground zero about everything related to it and the attacks.[snip]
Prior to Obama’s speech, some were getting questioned but few other than those in marginal districts faced tremendous pressure to provide an answer on the issue, since it’s realistically not something that they have any legal authority over in their current jobs.
Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office didn’t respond to e-mails. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s aides didn’t give a statement, although she did apparently tell a reporter at a public event that she found the speech “thoughtful.”
ADDED: I e-mailed a spokesman for Andrew Cuomo, who has been unequivocal in supporting the mosque under religious freedom, about the president’s remarks, but didn’t get a response. I didn’t get one from a N.Y. Democratic Party spokesman either.
Rep. Joseph Crowley, a Blue Dog Democrat, was “out of pocket.” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who’s facing a primary, didn’t put out a statement about the president, although an aide referred to her past support for the project.
In three heavily Republican districts, the issue is being raised by rivals.”
Bill Owens, Mike McMahon, Tim Bishop, Steve Israel, John Hall, Scott Murphy, Anthony Weiner, all ran in silent scream from the drowning pool Obama filled for them. But it is now, thanks to the brilliant Barack Obama not only New York Democrats who have to swim furiously from Obama and his flip-flop flim-flam blundering:
“The White House on Saturday struggled to tamp down the controversy over President Barack Obama’s statements about a mosque near ground zero — insisting Obama wasn’t backing off remarks Friday night when he offered support for a project that has infuriated some families whose loved ones died in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Obama’s comments placed him in the middle of the controversy over a Muslim group’s plans for a mosque near the site of the 2001 attack — and in turn, transformed an emotion-laden local dispute in New York into a nationwide debate overnight.[snip]
And Democrats — at least those who were willing to comment — could barely contain their frustration over Obama’s remarks, saying he had potentially placed every one of their candidates in the middle of the debate by giving GOP candidates a chance to ask them point-blank: Do you agree with Obama on the mosque?
That could be particularly damaging to moderate Democrats in conservative-leaning districts, already 2010’s most vulnerable contenders.
“I would prefer the president be a little more of a politician and a little less of a college professor,” former Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas), who once ran the House Democratic campaign arm, wrote in POLITICO’s Arena. “While a defensible position, it will not play well in the parts of the country where Democrats need the most help.”
Adding to the political problem for Democrats were the mixed messages out of the White House.
Obama’s comments Friday night — at an Iftar dinner at the White House marking the start of Ramadan — were widely reported as offering support for the specific mosque project in question near ground zero.
But on Saturday, Obama seemed to contradict himself, telling reporters at one point, “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about. And I think it’s very important, as difficult as some of these issues are, that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about.”
That impromptu answer to a TV reporter covering his trip to Florida prompted a second attempt to clarify his initial statement, this time from spokesman Bill Burton.
“Just to be clear, the president is not backing off in any way from the comments he made last night,” Burton said. “[snip]
The legal right to build the mosque is one even many critics of the mosque have not contested — claiming mainly that the project was inappropriate on grounds of taste and local sensitivities and therefore should be strongly discouraged.“
“The main reaction is ‘Why? Why now?’” said one House Democratic leadership aide. “It’s just another day off message. There have been a lot of days off message.”
The chief of staff to one politically vulnerable House Democrat said it “probably alienates a lot of independent voters” and “it’s not a good issue to be talking about right now.”
He said he suspects “there are a lot of [Democrats] who are spooked in tough districts today” and “a lot of Republicans licking their chops right now.”
Prior to his speech, a few candidates tried with limited success to make the proposed mosque an issue outside of the tristate area around New York City — but Obama’s words may have served to do that for them. A recent CNN poll found two-thirds of Americans oppose building the mosque in the neighborhood around ground zero.”
The Mosque of Doom is now a national issue. The ads write themselves:
“Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles Burlingame was the pilot of the plane the terrorists hijacked and flew into the Pentagon, said she was furious over the president’s remarks.
“I’m so angry. I believe this president has abandoned the American people,” she said. “This isn’t a fight about religious freedom for Muslims. No one has argued they don’t have the property rights. This is about a project led by someone who says he’s trying to build bridges and bring the community together and he’s chosen probably the worst place in America and the worst way to do it.”
Bitter and clingy Americans will see lots of advertisements featuring the Mosque of Doom and the victims:
“Tim Brown, a New York City firefighter and the plaintiff in a suit filed recently aimed at stopping the mosque based on the argument that the city failed to follow its own landmark policies, said, “I really think he was not speaking to us, I think he was speaking to the Muslim world.”
“It’s hurtful,” he said. “Our own president, the president of the United States, has abanddoned the families who gave too much already. It’s insensitive what he did, it’s hurtful what he did, and he couches it in religious freedom except (the Imam building the mosque)” doesn’t feel that way.”
Grizzly Mama Sarah Palin saw the blood in the water and threw in some Piranha:
“Legitimate Questions for the President –
Mr. President, should they or should they not build a mosque steps away from where radical Islamists killed 3000 people? Please tell us your position. We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they? And, no, this is not above your pay grade. If those who wish to build this Ground Zero mosque are sincerely interested in encouraging positive “cross-cultural engagement” and dialogue to show a moderate and tolerant face of Islam, then why haven’t they recognized that the decision to build a mosque at this particular location is doing just the opposite? Mr. President, why aren’t you encouraging the mosque developers to accept Governor Paterson’s generous offer of assistance in finding a new location for the mosque on state land if they move it away from Ground Zero? Why haven’t they jumped at this offer? Why are they apparently so set on building a mosque steps from what you have described, in agreement with me, as “hallowed ground”? I believe these are legitimate questions to ask.”
2×4 Schumer must be forced to answer that question as well. Every elected official, especially those running for office in November must be made to answer the Mosque of Doom question. Those that support the building of the Mosque of Doom must explain themselves. We know they do not want to be held to account. Before Obama’s Friday night/Saturday morning bamboozlement flip-flop-flim-flam Politico explained why the issue was toxic for Mosque of Doom proponents:
“Wonder why the White House doesn’t want to touch this one?
CNN finds (.pdf) that 68 percent of voters oppose plans to build “a mosque two blocks from the site in New York City where the World Trade Center used to stand.”
The cross-tabs are striking, and negative across the board. A full 79 percent of seniors oppose the plan, but so do 54 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of self-described liberals.”
Recently we wrote an article (“What is a Good Muslim? The New York Mosque of Doom?“) naming good Muslims. The New Republic now asks “What Is Moderate Islam?”
“Is the “Ground Zero Imam,” Feisal Abd ar-Rauf, a moderate Muslim? [snip] Some of his short essays and interviews in English suggest that he is a preacher of moderate disposition and views. But some of his more tentative, if not deceptive commentary about terrorism against Israelis, America’s culpability for 9/11, and the nobility and value of the Holy Law for Muslims living in the West suggest something different.[snip]
However, building an Islamic complex where the Twin Towers collapsed is different from building a mosque on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, DC. With the latter, we may frown on monies flowing to it from Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi establishment, given Wahhabism’s virulently anti-Western, anti-Semitic, and just all-around anti-fun traditions, but we certainly would not try to shut it down.
But standards for judging Mr. Rauf and the Cordoba Initiative should be different. Charles Krauthammer is right: Ground Zero is sacred ground. It would be morally obscene to allow Muslims to build a center near Ground Zero who had not unequivocally denounced (renounced, would be okay, too) the ideas that gave us the maelstrom of 9/11. If Mr. Rauf has collected monies from individuals or Muslim organizations overseas that preach contempt for infidels, have financially supported religiously militant organizations, or, worse, provided aide to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, then his project, which has been approved by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ought to be cancelled. Any American non-profit organization can tell you exactly whence its money comes. By contrast, it appears that the Cordoba Initiative’s funding has not been cross-checked with financial counterterrorist information within the Treasury Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Central Intelligence Agency. (If it had been, we probably would have heard about it.)
We also might wonder whether Mayor Bloomberg has asked for and received any alarming information from the FBI and the CIA about Mr. Rauf and his organization (Republican and Democratic members of either the House or Senate select committees on intelligence could do likewise, and receive a much fuller accounting of any information, and then relay, with due attention to Mr. Rauf’s privacy, a “yes” or “no” about any damning intelligence within classified files).
As any American or European counterterrorist officer can tell you, there is often a bewildering matrix of Islamic charities and financial institutions that knowingly, and unknowingly, funnel monies for terrorist groups and radical organizations. Mr. Rauf may be unfairly thought guilty by association; if so, he most of all should want to know whether he has received funds from Muslims who do not believe in peaceful coexistence with the West.
So we need to know whether Mr. Rauf is a moderate Muslim.”
The “Good Muslims” we named understand and have said they will be undermined by building the triumphalist Mosque of Doom. Why do elected officials fail to encourage these good Muslims and instead reflexively embrace the untested? Marc Gerecht at The New Republic thinks he knows why:
“Who—or what—is a “moderate Muslim” isn’t an easy question to answer. A moderate believer in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf isn’t the same as a moderate Muslim in the down-and-out suburbs of Paris. Moderate American Muslims, given the cultural traditions and moral expectations in the United States, would be different from moderate Muslims in the Persian Gulf (Mr. Rauf was born in Kuwait), where, depending on the country, an unveiled Muslim woman is a profound provocation.
Mirror-imaging themselves onto foreigners, Americans on both the left and the right are usually pretty quick to see moderate Muslims everywhere (George W. Bush and Barack Obama differ little here). Historically, Muslims themselves have shied away from splicing and dicing the faith in secular Western ways. The Ottomans viewed the jihad-happy, shrine-destroying, Shiite-killing Saudi Wahhabis as being beyond the Islamic pale; when a historian hits the words ghulat or ifrati—both denote “extremism”—in chronicles, he knows the author is probably discussing Muslims who are outrageously violent or proselytizing unholy ideas, like a Sufi lord, a pir, becoming a god-head.
But non-Muslim Americans need not, of course, define “moderation” as would faithful Muslims with a respectful eye to the past. We get to use American definitions for anything that happens on American soil. As de Tocqueville noted, faith in the United States is a civil creed: Americans have always put limits on what is acceptable in the communications between God and man. American Protestants and Catholics got to tell Mormons that despite their divine text messaging, polygamy and racism were taboo. (Today’s American secular elite has obviously gotten a bit lax about polygyny.) American Jews get to cross off the “moderate list” anyone who describes the children of Abraham as “Christ-killers.”
So what might be an American definition of a “moderate Muslim?” Perhaps the following two entries would be a good place to start.
(i) a believer who unqualifiedly rejects terrorism against anyone. This is America’s Eleventh Commandment. If a Muslim cannot renounce terrorism against Israelis, that person should not be allowed to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero. Testing for unacceptable deviancy isn’t hard. Just borrow from the former al-Qa’ida philosopher, Abd al-Qadir bin Abd al-Aziz, aka “Dr. Fadl,” who sees Palestinian suicide bombers as destined for hell. Thus: “Do you, Feisal Abd ar-Rauf, believe that Allah damns eternally Palestinian suicide bombers?” “Do you believe that rockets launched at Israeli towns by Hamas and Hizbollah are acts of terrorism, which will bring down upon the perpetrators Allah’s wrath?” Mr. Rauf’s answers ought to be short.
(ii) a believer who embraces the doctrine of “neo-ijtihad,” which holds that Muslims today are not chained to the Qur’anic interpretations and legal decisions accepted centuries ago as canonical. Specifically, a “moderate Muslim American” is someone who unqualifiedly renounces the applicability of the Sharia, the Holy Law, in American society. The “Americanization of Islam” here means that the traditional Muslim understanding of orthodoxy as orthopraxy (it’s not what you believe in your heart—that is between you and God—but how you act, i.e., apply the Sharia, in the public square that matters) is null and void. Thus, women may veil or not veil as they please; a woman’s testimony is equal to a man’s; polygyny is verboten; marriage to a menstruating child is an abomination; accepted corporalpunishments—amputations and stonings—are immoral; apostasy reflects bad judgment but isn’t criminal; and Jews and Christians should spiritually no longer be viewed as dhimmis, a properly subordinate species who really don’t deserve the same social status and legal rights as Muslims. Jewish and Christian power in America and Europe isn’t an offense against the divinely-sanctioned natural order; it’s just the product of a long, difficult, and tortuous evolution. The Sharia is a lengthy and complicated corpus that developed over centuries and often constrained the worst instincts of despots. A “moderate Muslim American” would see it in much the same way that a faithful “moderate Jewish American” views the Old Testament and the Talmud: documents of a certain time that contain considerable “divine” wisdom (as well as much looniness) and many imperatives for a good, healthy life.”
Our elected leaders and those that seek election must be made to explain their positions, pro or con, the Mosque of Doom. 2×4 Schumer as Senator from New York must answer these question fully. We know 2×4 Schumer does not want to answer these questions:
“A new poll from Marist shows that a majority of registered voters in New York City oppose the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan. Fifty three percent of those surveyed, including 50% of Democrats, 74% of Republicans, and 52% of “non-enrolled” voters, don’t want to see the mosque built, while 34% fav0r the project and 13% are “unsure.”
A nearly identical 50% saying that building such a structure “offends the memory of thge 9/11 victims and their families.” Thirty-four percent say the project will “help people better understand the teachings of Islam and the Muslim religion.”
These numbers will get worse for Barack Obama and 2×4 Schumer. As voters end their vacations and the post Labor Day campaigning begins – the talk will be about the Mosque of Doom. Also, Ramadan this year ends almost on September 11 heightening the Mosque of Doom awareness. After Labor Day, the Mosque of Doom will be the overriding emotional issue along with the collapsing economy.
Barack Obama and his haughty Dimocrats must speak clearly and explain their support for the Mosque of Doom. 2×4 Chuck Schumer must explain his silence and his position on the Mosque of Doom. 2×4 Schumer must explain to Bonnie McEneaney WHY?
Barack Obama tried to do a Jeremiah Wright “race” style speech and this time he failed to distract from the basic issue. Unfortunately for 2×4 Schumer and other Obama Dimocrats they are the ones directly up for election this November.
Barack Obama entered the Mosque of Doom on Friday. 2×4 Chuck Schumer and Obama Dimocrats entered the Mosque of Doom along with Obama. It’s now Barack Obama’s Mosque and it’s now 2×4 Schumer’s Mosque as well as every Obama Dimocrat’s Mosque.
Those who want to stop the Mosque of Doom will vote out every Obama Dimocrat who does not speak out against the Mosque of Doom now and in a convincing manner.
Ask not for whom the Mosque of Doom tolls, Chuck. It tolls for thee.