Friday, September 10, 2010

Article Of The Week

Actually, it's a blog post, but "Blog Post Of The Week" is at least as limiting.

Weighing in on the discussion among Newsweek's Howard Fineman, Time Magazine's Mark Halperin, and MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Friday's Hardball, Digby presents this excerpt:

Halperin: Can I just say one thing about the politics? If this were a Cold War issue and a Democratic president who was vulnerable on the cultural and national security issues of the type that are implicated here and politicians were saying these things who were Republicans, we'd have no doubt that they were doing it on purpose. That they were doing it purely to discombobulate the president and undermine his image. And again, I'd like to give those three (Gingrich, Palin, Boehner) the benefit of the doubt but you saw what the president had to do today... he had to brandish his Christian faith. And that shows the extent to which he is discombobulated by this.

Matthews: That's called a religious test, by the way...

Matthews: Newsmax, a conservative webs site put that up today. He took his strongest position on the mosque...

Fineman: Yes, if you can build a church there, build a synagogue there, build a hindu temple there .. the president doesn't like to be pushed on these kinds of things on the one hand. One the one hand he does the Christian riff. On the other he says they should be able to build it there. And that's the box he's in.

Matthews, Digby notes, "then played Obama's statement today in which he said that about the church, synagogue etc." The conversation continued:

Matthews: "Mark respond to this? Here's the president on the mosque. A lot of people didn't hear this today. Let's listen."

Obama: "With respect to the mosque in New York, I think I've been pretty clear on my position here. And that is that this country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal, that they have certain inalienable rights. One of those inalienable rights is to practice their religion freely. And what that means is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site."

Matthews: "Way too strong Mark?"

Halperin: "Way too weak. If he were my professor at the University of Chicago, my law professor, I'd say, 'Man, I love that teacher. He's really eloquent.' That's not what's needed now from the president of the United States. This is not a local issue, it's not a national issue, it's an international issue. I mean, if that's his strongest position, I still don't know what he actually thinks should be done. What I do know is, it can not be solved now, whether it's going to be moved or built there, it can not be solved without his leadership. And leadership is not taking a theoretical lawyerly position which is what he's still doing."

Digby realizes

This was the most confused bunch of nonsensical crapola I've ever seen, from Halperin's bizarre Cold War comments to Fineman apparently believing that being a Christian equates with being against the building of the Islamic Center. But essentially it comes down to the fact that the Republicans are making political hay and it's Obama's fault for not being omnipotent and able to stop them, so they should move the project.

I thought Obama's case today was quite good. I suppose he could go up to New York and get a bullhorn and talk trash in front of the Park51 --- Halperin gets all gooey at stuff like that --- but I honestly don't think there's anything he can personally do about this. Obama isn't the big Daddy Fix-It that Halperin thinks a president should be so we have no choice but to submit ourselves to our new wingnut overlords.

It might have been helpful if everyone had been a little bit more skeptical of the Know-Nothing neanderthals on the right for a long time now, but I see no reason to hold Obama completely responsible for reversing the damage. He's one of the major victims and while I wish he'd been tougher on the Republicans, I don't see how he could have personally fought back all this anti-black/Muslim commie nonsense that's been thrown his way. The press could have made a difference, but that ship sailed some time back.

Mark Halperin is a journalist who "gets all gooey" about Barack Obama, then is easily disappointed, as in this instance. While Digby understands that the underlying, dominating dynamic of this issue is Republicans making "political hay," Halperin remarks "I'd like to give those three (Gingrich, Palin, Boehner) the benefit of the doubt," which suggests he is unsure of their motive.

Perhaps Halperin's uncertainty derives from the parallel between his approach and of those Republicans he refers to. None of the three has advocated a specific action the President should take to prevent construction of the not quite a mosque not quite at Ground Zero. Similarly, Halperin argues "What I do know is, it can not be solved now, whether it's going to be moved or built there, it can not be solved without his leadership. And leadership is not taking a theoretical lawyerly position which is what he's still doing."

Halperin does not suggest what President Obama should do- or even that he do anything. He merely calls for the President to exercise "leadership," which he does not define or describe other than to say it is nothing "lawyerly." Given that Halperin cautions against "taking a theoretical lawyerly position," he should recognize his own "confused bunch of nonsensical crapola." Nothing lawyerly about that.


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