Speaking to the pool reporters in Panama City, Fla., President Obama hinted that he might, just might, not think building a mosque near the World Trade Center site is a good idea.
But after showing a little leg, he covered it back up. From today’s pool report:
“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.
“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.”
Why not comment on whether this is a good idea? I think most people would agree the creators of the Islamic center have a “right” to build it.
The question is, should they do it?You have a “right” to go trick or treating as Goebbels, but it’s not a good idea. Opponents of the mosque want its backers to use their common sense, not be handcuffed to their beds so they can’t leave the house to go build the thing.
Obama indeed said last night, that they have a “right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”
But today Obama clarifies that he wasn’t implying it was a good idea. So what has Obama contributed to the debate if, in Clintonian fashion, he offers a grandiloquent affirmation of religious freedom one day but then the next makes sure he’s not perceived as being on the opposite end of the issue as most Americans?
Obama’s “clarification” forced Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton this afternoon to do a “clarification” of the “clarification.”
Just to be clear, the President is not backing off in any way from the comments he made last night. It is not his role as President to pass judgment on every local project.
But it is his responsibility to stand up for the Constitutional principle of religious freedom and equal treatment for all Americans. What he said last night, and reaffirmed today, is that If a church, a synagogue or a Hindu temple can be built on a site, you simply cannot deny that right to those who want to build a Mosque.
The World Trade Center site is hallowed ground, where 3000 Americans-Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims were the victims of a cold-blooded massacre. We are still at war with the small band of terrorists who planned and executed that attack. But that does not give government the right to deny law-abiding Americans of one faith the same rights you would accord anyone else.
Obama has weighed in without really weighing in. He should have stayed silent on the matter instead of implying that people want to violate the law.