Jonah Goldberg: Lack of Foresight Lets Mosque Controversy Balloon





[Jonah Goldberg is an editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.]

The Ground Zero mosque controversy is one of the stupidest debates of our time. I don’t mean the substance of the debate (though there’s no shortage of stupidity on that front either). I mean that we are having it at all....

With the Ground Zero mosque, we have gotten the exact opposite. The supposedly pragmatic political wise men have been blinded by ideology or incompetence and have failed to see what was so obviously around the corner. A big, honking Islamic center built to capitalize on 9/11, in a building that was damaged on 9/11? What could go wrong?...

Let’s start with the incandescent idiocy of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. If Bloomberg had a scintilla of foresight, he would have prevented anyone from ever hearing the words “Ground Zero” and “mosque” in the same sentence....

Which brings us to President Obama (who himself could have quietly intervened months ago) and to what may be his most embarrassing blunder yet. At a White House dinner with Muslim leaders Friday night, Obama offered what every major journalistic outfit in the country took to be unqualified support for building the mosque. Indeed, Obama aides preened over his moral courage, telling the New York Times that there was no doubt which side he would take.

“He felt he had a responsibility to speak,” said David Axelrod, as if he were drafting the inscription on Obama’s Profiles in Courage Award. But by Saturday morning, Obama tried to weasel out of it with the sort of lawyerly parsing everybody despises. Speaking to reporters in Florida, Obama claimed he had no position on the “wisdom” of the project, and anyone who mistook his academic comments about building a mosque in Lower Manhattan for an endorsement misunderstood him....

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