Only a few weeks ago, the Obama administration’s stated opinion on the mosque/Islamic cultural center being built near Ground Zero was that it was a local issue that the President would not comment on, as seen here being said by Robert Gibbs:
It’s a position the administration has held on to several times since the Henry Louis Gates incident to not get involved in hot button topics such as Prop 8. But on Friday, the President finally did come out in support of the right to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, only to hedge his comments on Saturday. But why?
First, here is the video of the President’s initial comments from Friday:
Sounds pretty straight-forward, right? The man believes that all religions have the right to be practiced in our country. He was supporting the Constitutional right for the Muslims in charge of erecting the center. Didn’t sound like there was an any doubt that he strongly supported the group preparing to build this mosque near the site of one our greatest national tragedies.
However, 24 hours later while answering questions in Panama City Beach, Florida, the President seemed to backtrack on his initial statement. Responding to a reporter, the President said, “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.” Coming a day after his initial comments the President sounds completely political in his response. Especially when you consider recent CNN polling that has shown 68% of Americans are against the building of the Islamic center near Ground Zero.
In a vacuum, I actually agree with the President’s statement. I do believe in the right of religion, all religion, in the United States. It is a founding principal that needs to be upheld even when it doesn’t seem prudent. However, this isn’t a vacuum and political pundits are not looking for the President to lead our country through hypothetical examples, but based on real world examples. That is the largest part of being the President – to lead the direction of our country.
So which is it? Does the President not believe it should be built because it is an intolerant reminder of the events that occurred less than 10 years ago? Or does the President believe it should be built but won’t comment on it because he realizes 70% of the nation and majority of his own party disagree with him – so, he won’t say it, just imply it? It seems to me like the latter is true.