Greg Sargent is a Washington Post
blogger and compromised JournoList hack
whose “Plum Line” entries are decidedly left of center. Greg was overwhelmed with enthusiasm last Friday when, for a brief but shining moment, it appeared President Obama was supporting the construction of the ground zero mosque. He gushed that it would
“go down as one of the finest moments of his presidency.”
[caption id="attachment_107849" align="aligncenter" width="440" caption="Former Cathedral of St. Sophia, now a mosque"][/caption]
Sargent contrasted Obama’s bold stance with the “clever little dodge” which some Republicans were using. Here’s his description of the conservative stance, “The group has the right to build the center, runs this argument, but they are wrong to exercise it.”
That was Friday. On Saturday, the President gave an impromptu response to a reporter’s question, which went like this:
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.
This struck a lot of people as very similar to the distinction made by conservatives, i.e. a legal and religious right to build does not equate to a good (or wise) idea. The only real difference is that President Obama refused to take sides on the crucial issue. In effect, he voted present on the wisdom question.
Needless to say, this came as a big disappointment to Sargent, who was quick to argue that Obama’s clarification was not a walkback
The "clarification" today would be a walkback if he had previously "endorsed" the project in the sense of declaring it a good idea. But he never "endorsed" it in that sense…Rather, Obama's "endorsement" of the project consisted entirely of a declaration that now that the group has decided to proceed, American ideals demand that we welcome and respect such people in situations like these. He hasn't backed off that core assertion. Nor is it contradicted by a refusal to comment directly on the "wisdom" of the project itself.
Question: If a conservative grants that mosque builders have a legal right to do what they want with their own property, isn’t that a commitment to respect their decision? Granted it’s a begrudging respect, but isn’t that sometimes appropriate? Would Sargent welcome the Klan’s decision to march down Broadway? How about the despicable Westboro Baptist Church’s decision to protest gay funerals?
We can of course argue about whether the Cordoba mosque is at all similar to these cases (Greg Gutfeld effectively made some allusions to the latter group), but the point is we don’t always have to welcome every choice that is legal with open arms.
[caption id="attachment_107845" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Great Mosque at Cordoba, now a Cathedral"][/caption]
Rather than admit the obvious, Sargent goes into panic mode over the political hay that Republicans are making of Obama’s comments. He quotes Josh Marshall from Talking Points Memo approvingly:
We're in a midst of a spasm of nativist panic and raw and raucous appeals to race and religious hatred. What affect this will have on the November election strikes me as not particularly relevant. What's important is compiling some record of what's afoot, some catalog for understanding in the future who was responsible and who was so willing to disgrace their country and their principles for cheap advantage.
Put aside Josh Marshall's gleeful swiping of the race card (I wonder if that thing has a spending limit). Exactly four hours later, another one of those despicable politicians “willing to disgrace their country and their principles for cheap advantage” made an appearance on Sargent’s blog
Harry Reid is breaking with the President, claiming that while he respects freedom of religion, he's not willing to support an Islamic center near Ground Zero…This just makes the Dems look weak, unorganized, cowardly, and unwilling to take a stand for principles they plainly believe in.
Reid is definitely not one of those taking a stand on principle. But like the President most Americans can find daylight between what is legal and what is wise. Not so for Greg Sargent. You either welcome the decision to build the mosque or you’re a racist, nativist, weak, cowardly disgrace with no principles. For Sargent (and Marshall), it’s just that black and white.
The irony is palpable. After years of tiresome lectures about the dangers of an us vs. them
mentality, the professional left has finally embraced the Zen of cowboy diplomacy.