Barack talking NYC Mosque, acting wise and presidential, aka committing potential political hari kari

Here’s a clip of the president answering questions about ithe comments he made about the NYC Islamic center mess at the annual White House Iftar dinner last Friday. He’s clear and articulate and sensible and stands on unquestionably firm moral, classlically American principles and precedents. He is firm and eloquent and presidential about it.


I think it’s remarkably stupid politically for him to touch the subject with a ten-foot Koran, as it were. I have to believe that at least some of his advisors supported him in his decision to comment on the issue in a speech on Friday (and ESPECIALLY in one on a Friday, in the hopes of it disappearing over the weekend, of course (here’s the text in its entirety, and here’s video of it). In the speech, given at the , he addressed the issue at length, focusing on freedom of religion as a defining American tenet and value. All good stuff, but, again, in the name of playing the game, playing it dirty and winning at all costs, in the paranoid and anti-Muslim America of 2010, potentially a huge misstep. Here’s the part where I feel he lays it out all to plainly:

As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. (Applause.) 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. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure.

I mean, if that don’t come across as Muslim-lovin’ and communistical, well then I just don’t know what do. Anja, responding to my bafflement at why he made the speech, replied, half in jest, to the effect that maybe Obama knows he can’t win in 2012 so he’s decided to just do the right thing. Seems she’s catching the cynical bug – she should never have married that old guy.

Please don’t misunderstand; I find it incredibly heartening see Barack take a simple, principled stand on this needlessly controversial “issue,” but I still think there’s gonna be heck to pay. But maybe I’m wrong. I really haven’t heard too much about, it, but then again it is the weekend when the radio ranters are silent. We’ll just see what Alan Colmes’ listeners have to say on Monday night – it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Author: Masculinity and Its Discontents

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