Seriously? Because President Obama has read and can reasonably interpret the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? (You know–the one he swore to preserve, protect, and defend?)
As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the Founders must endure.
I’ve been traveling today so I haven’t kept up with all of the chatter, but I heard about this last night from the BBC World Service as I tried to fall sleep, and wondered at all of the play it was getting when Obama’s comments seem so obvious. What was the big friggin’ deal? The statement was made at a Ramadan observance at the White House last night, so it was an appropriate venue for the President to make his statement. It’s a perfect issue on which Obama might express an opinion–since it’s really a local issue over which he has no real authority. (Unlike say ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which he could do with the stroke of a pen, or a host of other campaign promises made that are still unfulfilled.) So he can’t raise expectations here–he was just handing out a warm slanket to his guests, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there are people out there who think Obama’s statement is the awesomest, hopey-changiest thing they’ve heard for at least 18 months, apparently:
Obama’s core declaration here is as simple and clear a statement about what’s really at stake in this fight as one could have asked for. Obama argued that an “unshakable” devotion to the notion that all faiths are “welcome” is “essential to who we are,” thus casting this as a larger argument over the bedrock moral principles that are the foundation of American identity.
Obama issued this statement in the full knowledge that his opponents have been itching for him to wade into this battle. The right is engaged in a concerted effort to make it politically toxic to stand up for the rights of Muslims — and to simultaneously insinuate that Obama is on “their” side, and not on ours. . . .
Yet Obama entered the fray anyway, in dramatic fashion, asserting that our identy rests on “our capacity to show not merely tolerance, but respect towards those who are different from us.” [ed. note: Did he neglect to mention the importance of mothers and apple pie in this bold, new vision of our national identity? Or was that too controversial?] Crucially, Obama also cast support for the religious freedom of Muslim Americans as key to winning the battle with Al Qaeda, even as he hailed the service of Muslim Americans in our military. In so doing, Obama directly confronted the demagoguery at the core of much of the opposition to this project.
Yegads. If the left is not only willing but apparently eager to settle for crumbs–that is, a statement reiterating settled Constitutional law–then it gets the presidents it deserves.