Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Obama's mosque duty

Washington Post
August 16, 2010

President Obama has a peculiar talent for enraging his critics while deflating the enthusiasm of his friends, on full display in the Manhattan mosque controversy.

His first intervention, at a White House dinner for Ramadan on Friday, was an unqualified defense of both religious liberty and religious tolerance, implying that opposition to a mosque near Ground Zero violated both. In his second intervention, in an unplanned exchange with a reporter on Saturday, he insisted that he was not commenting "on the wisdom" of building the mosque, merely affirming the right to a construction permit. It was not a contradiction, but it was a marked change in tone. Obama managed to collect all the political damage for taking an unpopular stand without gaining credit for political courage.

But being hapless does not make the president wrong.