Who's Trash Talking The Imam?
Marc Ambinder takes both parties to task over the Cordoba House controversy, asking "from an ethical standpoint, which is worse: Are Republicans demagoguing the issue or are Democrats trying to stay silent because they're afraid to engage?" I think the answer is pretty obvious, but I suppose your mileage may vary.
But I found this very puzzling. First he says this:
Who but right wing demagogues have been saying that Imam Rauf is a "fashionable" moderate but was eager to to blame Americans for 9/11 and is sympathetic toward Hamas? I guess you can say that Ambinder was just stipulating this for argument's sake, but it's a major stipulation, especially since he later writes this in the same piece:
Stipulating that it's OK to oppose the Ground Zero mosque, that Imam Rauf is fashionably moderate (and yet was eager to fault Americans for 9/11 and had trouble describing Hamas as a terrorist group) .... : it's plain demagoguery to nationalize the issue.
President Obama did not weigh in on the Cordoba House because it was a "constitutional issue." He did so because his national security principles call for him to do everything possible to integrate American Muslims into America, and to project those actions to the world. It's clear that he's read up on the mosque, Imam Rauf, and the real estate machinations of lower Manhattan, and that he's uncomfortable endorsing the decision to place a mosque near the pit.If that's clear, I hadn't heard it. But then I don't have the contacts inside the administration Ambinder has, so I'm not privy to the explanations they may be giving to journalists on the qt.
I don't know that that's what happened. But until now, I haven't heard from anyone that the White House was "uncomfortable" endorsing the decision because of the Imam and real estate machinations. If that's the case, then the president is falling for right wing clap trap. If it isn't, then is Ambinder just making stuff up? Or is it that they are telling reporters this stuff off the record so they can get it out there that the President explicitly doesn't endorse this project for those reasons?
Frankly until I read this it hadn't even occurred to me that Obama actually opposed the project, much less for those reasons. I had assumed the opposite and that their decision to stay neutral on the "wisdom" of building it was an (ineffectual) attempt to stay above the fray. Even Harry Reid's cowardly baby splitting today didn't seem to be a comment on the merits of the project itself but merely the location. However if the White House now wants to get the word out that they aren't endorsing because they disapprove of Imam Rauf, we are in very different territory. I sincerely hope that isn't the case.
** There's also Ambinder's odd hosannas for Chris Christie's lame statement, which Kevin Drum effectively skewers here. All in all, it's a very strange post that raises more questions than it answers.