Streetwise Professor

August 15, 2010

Spinning Like a Dervish

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 9:15 am

The one complimentary thing I said about Obama’s iftar disquisition on the Ground Zero mosque was his honesty in endorsing the concept.  Now I have to take that back too, because stunned by the manure storm that his remarks unleashed, he and his aides have been spinning furiously.  First, he came out and stated he was only commenting about the legality of the mosque–a red herring issue, because nobody is disputing the legality–and not the wisdom of building it.  But then his deputy press secretary Bill Burton (i.e., Gibbs headed for the tall grass) adamantly claimed that Obama was not backing off his original remarks at all:

Just to be clear [arrrrgggghhh!], the President is not backing off in any way from the comments he made last night.

It is not his role as President to pass judgment on every local project. [Who said it was?  And is this just another, garden variety local project?] But it is his responsibility to stand up for the Constitutional principle of religious freedom and equal treatment for all Americans.

Let’s not BS the troops here, folks.  Everybody knew exactly what Obama meant.  Want evidence?  Read this encomium to Obama’s brave stand:

A few quick thoughts about Obama’s forceful speech yesterday expressing strong support for Cordoba House, which will go down as one of the finest moments of his presidency.

Obama didn’t just stand up for the legal right of the group to build the Islamic center. He voiced powerful support for their moral right to do so as well, casting it as central to American identity. This is a critical point, and it goes to the the essence of why his speech was so commendable.

Today, I’ll bet, the guy who wrote that–Greg Sargent of the Washington Post–is channeling Emily Latella.

By sanctimoniously wrapping the issue in bromides about the First Amendment and American identity and religious freedom and the Founders Obama was making it quite plain that he believes that anyone who opposes the mosque is a religious bigot and un-American.  (Isn’t that rich.)  Burton’s clarification of Obama’s clarification reinforces that point.

Along these lines, it’s also worth reading the invaluable Wretchard, who understands codetalkers. The almost as invaluable (?) but all too silent lately Beldar gets it about “getting it” too.

There’s too much wickedly mordant commentary on the Obama-as-whirling-Dervish routine to link it all; if it’s as hot as hell where you are as it is here (a shout out to my Moscow readers!:), you can spend an entertaining afternoon panning the web for comedy gold.  Just One Minute has a line that stands out though:

I have an idea our President will love – maybe we can open an Islamic Waffle House in a building damaged in the 9/11 attacks.  Obama can be the first customer.

One other, not funny, thing caught my eye.  Commentary’s Jennifer Rubin catches Obama in a telling contradiction:

Because while Obama believes that Muslims have “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,” regardless of who it annoys and offends, he considers it an unacceptable affront to him and his Palestinian clients for Jews to build apartments in their eternal capital. Funny, how that works out.

Michael Kinsley once said that a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.  A corollary to that is that whenever a politician “clarifies” his remarks, it’s because everybody understood perfectly well what the original remarks meant, and that the politician meant them–to his surprise and regret.

Many Democrats are despairing over Obama’s three-left-foot intervention into this extremely touchy issue.  He just threw gasoline on the bonfire that is roaring to roast his party in November.  And the spinning is just blowing air to feed the fire.  Quite a performance.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Craig pirrong, Craig pirrong. Craig pirrong said: Updated my SWP blog post: Spinning Like a Dervish ( ) […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Streetwise Professor -- — August 15, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  2. Because while Obama believes that Muslims have “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,” regardless of who it annoys and offends, he considers it an unacceptable affront to him and his Palestinian clients for Jews to build apartments in their eternal capital. Funny, how that works out.

    To the best of my knowledge, Rauf & Co. did not steal their land from American aborigines.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — August 15, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

  3. I think this is a much fairer account:

    There was great rejoicing on the port side of the blogosphere this weekend after Barack Obama took the “brave step” of announcing “his support for the Ground Zero mosque.” (There was also much rejoicing on the starboard side as well, as it “proved” the Right’s contention that Obama is a double-secret Islamic Muslim Moslem Mohammedan out to convert every American into Islamic Muslim Moslems.) Even stern critics of many aspects of the Obama regime declared that here, at last, the pusillanimous progressive prez had taken a worthy stand, and should be praised. …

    In any case, soon — in less than 24 hours, in fact — it was walkbacks all around, as the Pusillanimous One issued a statement that diluted his original declaration to the point of anodyne meaninglessness. No longer a bold stand against the truly sickening racism — and deliberate deceit — of the manufactured “controversy,” Obama’s “stance” was reduced to beltway boilerplate about our exalted American principles … while specifically (and cravenly) denying that these principles could be or should be applied to this, or any, particular case.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — August 15, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

  4. @S/O. So, The One has succeeded in getting literally everybody POd. Well played!

    WRT the specifics of the excerpt. Against which race is the alleged racism directed? If the issue is Islam, last time I checked, it was an omni-racial religion. As is Christianity.

    Another example of the apparently reflexive necessity of any lefty to invoke “racism” to tar his or her opponent. Ad hominem at its worst. No matter the issue, you disagree with the anointed, you’re a racist.

    Fine. Whatever. Go play with yourself, because by arguing like that, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

    And, bluntly speaking, completely counterproductive. It has become so tiresome. Like any overused epithet, it is losing its sting. You might as well say “your mama.” It only causes target of said epithet to tune you out completely.

    Re what was allegedly proved. What a crock. If you, or the author of this drivel, actually believes that’s what 99 percent of those in opposition to the construction of the mosque believe, you are out to lunch without your wallet.

    Again. Just playing with yourselves.

    This whole issue should not be about Constitutional principles. It is about prudence, yes, that most bourgeois of virtues.

    I suggest you read Deirdre (nee Don) McCloskey’s The Bourgeois Virtues. (A suggestion I’ve made to you before.) Casting every argument in terms of absolutes and rights is a recipe for conflict. If you want civil settlement of disagreements, you need to build on a foundation of prudence, not rights and righteousness.

    This is, fundamentally, a matter of accommodation, and opportunity costs. In essence, the supporters of the mosque demand that their views be accommodated, even though doing so would hurt myriad others far more grievously. There is only one Ground Zero. There are numerous other places to build a mosque. If it is just a mosque, any mosque, with no special connection to 9-11, then why build it where planned? Wouldn’t anywhere else do? The asymmetry is as plain as the nose on my face.

    The insistence of the developers to proceed on the site reveals preferences. That it is all about 9-11. Which raises serious questions about their motivations and ulterior intentions. Which is why this whole thing has gone critical.

    The developers of the mosque, and those who support them (perhaps Obama–who knows?), are acting with extreme imprudence. That is a recipe for conflict. And when picking a fight, it’s always wise–no, prudent–to ask who has the bigger battalions.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 16, 2010 @ 10:03 am

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