Obama Clarifies Mosque Remarks
Speaking to reporters today, President Obama drew a sharp line under his comments last night, insisting that his defense of the right to build a mosque does not mean he supports the project.
“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,” he said.
Obama’s new stance is logically consistent with his words last night, if a bit less “clarion,” as Mike Bloomberg called the first remarks. And there are certainly two possible stances here: Bloomberg’s, that the Cordoba project itself represents the best of America; and Obama’s, that the freedom of religion is an important American value.
Obama’s new remarks, literally speaking, re-open the question of which side he’s on. Most of the mosque’s foes recognize the legal right to build, and have asked the builders to reconsider.
It is a perfectly reasonable position to take, I think, especially for the President of the United States. It would be inappropriate for him to come out and say that he was opposed to construction of the mosque even though, as he said last night, our nation’s laws and tradition of religious tolerance argue that it should be permitted to go forward.
At the same time, though, it’s likely that Obama has stepped into a political minefield here and, while he may be right and well-intentioned, I’m not sure that he has the political skills to find his way out. But, that is a topic for another post.