In the Arena

Something I Didn’t Know

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This, from the New York Times today:

Two mosques, founded in 1970 and 1985, are already within several blocks of the proposed center.

Oh My God! The sacrilege! Paging Newt Gingrich: should we close those suckers down?

Actually, this is further evidence of the true nature of this squabble: a particularly sleazy form of Nativist electoral politics.

And this, from Roger Simon, is pretty awful, too–especially since the dreadful Drudge is leading with it. Obama may well be a one-term President, but there is absolutely no way to know that yet. And if he does turn out to be turned out because he did the right thing on this and other issues, history will be a lot more kind to him than it will be to those who abandoned the Constitution for miniscule political gain. (Amend that: As commenter Stuart Zechman points out, Simon is being sarcastic–which becomes clear on the second page of his column, which I missed. Sorry, Roger, I knew you were better than that.)

Beinart Weighs In: Smart and decent as ever. And by the way, Peter’s latest book, The Icarus Syndrome, is the best non-fiction book I’ve read this summer.

And furthermore: Pete Wehner attempts to camouflage his own sashay away from constitutionality–and away from his former boss, George W. Bush–by playing word games about the President’s position on the mosque. I agree with Pete that Obama’s Clintonian dip away from clarity–he’s for the right to put the mosque there, but cloudy on whether it’s a good idea–was not a profile in courage. But there’s a bright line here: Obama has clearly stated that there is a constitutionally guaranteed right to put a mosque there. Wehner, Bill Kristol and the other Republican hacks who like to be thought of as thinkers when they don’t think about much except tactics will continue to blow this nativist smoke so long as it hurts Democratic prospects in the fall–as it may well. They should be embarrassed. As should Harry Reid, by the way. (And, to the extent he walked back his clear position, the President, too.)

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