Sunday, August 15, 2010

"I Was For It Before I Was Against It" Redux

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John Kerry is infamous for his support of the troops: “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” Just this week, Senator Harry Reid has been shown to be for limiting the citizenship claims of "anchor babies" before he was against it. And now, in the course of about forty eight hours, we have President Obama on both sides of the Ground Zero Mosque controversy.

In a textbook example of what not to do on the national political stage, Professor Obama, who had previously instructed his press secretary to defer Ground Zero mosque questions on the basis that it was a "local" issue for local officials to deal with, proceeds to nationalize the discussion with his Ramadan dinner pronouncement.

"Let me be clear: as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances..." (emphasis mine)

He was clearly speaking specifically to the "Ground Zero" Mosque, not some general principle. Within 24 hours, he issued the following "clarification":
In this country we treat everybody equally and in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion. 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.

On her Facebook page, Sarah Palin, under the title "Legitimate Questions for the President" she writes:

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?

Referring to one of President's "voting present" moments, why shouldn't the President comment on the wisdom of building a mosque there? He commented on, perhaps, the one issue where there is no disagreement. They do have the right to build there. If it was a "teachable moment" to assert they had the "right" to build there, which virtually no one denies, , why not also comment on the wisdom of doing so, or the effect on the national psyche of having a mosque built so close to where three thousand people were killed at the hands of militant Muslims?

Isn't the definition of leadership "an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction"? If up to two thirds of the country are in error over this decision, what better place to provide guidance and direction than the "bully pulpit" of the Presidency? If he was going to comment at all, why not address the "wisdom" of the decision?

And because Obama is at his core, a political weasel, his carefully scripted remarks on Friday required a clarification on Saturday when he started to feel the heat. And then the White House issued a clarification on the clarification. That's leadership?

The President votes "Present".

Cross posted at Left Coast Rebel

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