Saturday, August 14, 2010


Well, that was my first thought when I saw the story:

President Obama delivered a strong defense on Friday night of a proposed Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, using a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan to proclaim that "as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country." ...

Now it's personal, I thought -- the right-wingers know if they attack the project now, they're attacking Target #1. They really, really want to take Obama out politically. And attacking him will mean that Democratic officeholders and candidates going into a tough midterm campaign could find themselves in the crossfire. This might nationalize the issue. It might mean that candidates all over the country will have to take a stand on what Obama said -- and, since they're Democrats and they're in even more on a defensive crouch than they usually are, a lot of them might want to distance themselves from Obama on this issue. Some -- and not necessarily just the usual turncoats -- might even grandstand on the other side.

But maybe that's wrong. No, not because Obama gave a hell of a speech defending the project and the core principles of American tolerance and pluralism (although he certainly did) -- come on, folks, this is America in the post-Reagan, post-Nixon, post-Southern Strategy, Murdoch/Limbaugh Era -- surely you don't think we're going to listen to cooler heads and the voices of reason rather than faction and passion once right-wingers have turned angry, do you?

No -- I think this might not matter one way or another because opinions are already set in stone. Not even a weighing-in by the Kenyan Antichrist is going to make any difference to the haters -- they already think it's all one big, hydra-headed liberal plot to turn America into Islamica, or maybe MusMexistan; I'm sure they already considered Obama part of the conspiracy to build this Islamic center, and would have believed that even if he'd never said a word.

So read the speech, savor it -- and hope someday you can live in a country where a speech like this could do some good, a country that's not run by a mob of infants goaded on by cynical nihilists.

No comments: