Monday, August 23, 2010

"Ground Zero Mosque" Controversy Brings Strange Bedfellows

Liberal columnist Maureen Dowd and conservative columnist Michael Gerson both came out in support of the "Ground Zero Mosque" (neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero). More striking, however, were the alliances on display within the columns themselves. On the one hand, you had Dowd wishing President Obama was more like the second President Bush:

The war against the terrorists is not a war against Islam. In fact, you can’t have an effective war against the terrorists if it is a war on Islam.
George W. Bush understood this. And it is odd to see Barack Obama less clear about this matter than his predecessor. It’s time for W. to weigh in.
This — along with immigration reform and AIDS in Africa — was one of his points of light. As the man who twice went to war in the Muslim world, he has something of an obligation to add his anti-Islamophobia to this mosque madness. W. needs to get his bullhorn back out.
 On the other hand, you had Gerson (a former speechwriter for Bush) defending Obama:
By this standard, Obama had no choice but the general path he took. No president, of any party or ideology, could tell millions of Americans that their sacred building desecrates American holy ground. This would understandably be taken as a presidential assault on the deepest beliefs of his fellow citizens. It would be an unprecedented act of sectarianism, alienating an entire faith tradition from the American experiment. If a church or synagogue can be built on a commercial street in Lower Manhattan, declaring a mosque off-limits would officially equate Islam with violence and terrorism. No president would consider making such a statement.
 Looks like we still have bipartisanship after all.

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