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Breaking: Two Dems back "mosque," sky remains in place

Others have noted this already. But I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that two Dem Senate candidates today unequivocally did the right thing on Cordoba House. Both stood up strongly for the group's Constitutional rights and for religious freedom -- and neither opposed the location.

Here's what Dem Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania told reporters today, according to his campaign:

"I strongly believe in a Constitutional right of religious freedom and in the separation of church and state applying equally to everyone. Those are rights that I defended for 31 years in that fine U.S. Navy.

"This is an issue for New York to resolve -- as long as it respects those Constitutional rights. Let's also step back and say, 'Let's stop playing politics with religion.'"

And Alexi Giannoulias, the Dem Senate candidate in Illinois, said he sympathized with the 9/11 families. But he said he supports New York's decision to do the project, and even -- gasp! -- pointed out that Muslims were victims on 9/11 too, adding:

"Everyone in the world is waiting to see how we react -- are we going to talk about tolerance, are we going to talk about freedom of religion, or are we going to actually practice it?"

Dammit, was that so hard? Was that really so risky? Provided neither Dem walks back his support -- anything is possible, of course -- I say we bank these statements, and keep an eye on what happens next.

Select Beltway types have been leaking anonymous quotes nonstop suggesting that taking a stand on this issue could prove lethal to Dems in competitive races. How dare Obama show any leadership by saying anything about this? After all, he compelled Dems to take a side on a difficult issue with elections coming up in nearly three months!

Here we have two test cases. Let's see if either Dem pays any political price whatsoever for this stance as the campaign unfolds.

By Greg Sargent  |  August 17, 2010; 5:19 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Foreign policy and national security  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Right wing's latest falsehood: Obama "voted present" on Cordoba House
Next: Happy Hour Roundup


We now return you to 24/7 mosque flogging, here on MosqueBlog.

Posted by: CalD | August 17, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

two out of six posts, cal.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 17, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Oh poo, looks like I'll have to make contributions to their campaign funds.

Posted by: nisleib | August 17, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

O/T but worth a reminder --

MURDOCH LIED.... It was just a few months ago that Rupert Murdoch was asked whether it's appropriate for Fox News to play an active role in supporting the so-called Tea Party "movement."

The News Corp. CEO replied, "I don't think we should be supporting the Tea Party or any other party."

Perhaps we should stop allowing immigration from Australia.

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 17, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

President George Washington, 220 years ago, "It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."

h/t DKos

Posted by: nisleib | August 17, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been found guilty of only one of the 24 counts in his corruption trial. After deliberating for 14 days, the jury found him guilty only of making false statements to the FBI. The jury is deadlocked on the other 23 counts.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 17, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

The dog days of summer, August recess and an election on the horizon. It's making everyone crazy. While I'm glad to see a couple of Dems take a stand along the lines of where I think we should be as a country, I'm not expecting it to really change anything. I wonder how our soldiers fighting over in a Muslim country trying to win the hearts and minds of the people of Afghanistan feel about this issue. They're probably too busy trying to stay alive and keep their buddies alive as well. We have the luxury of arguing over something that is clearly spelled out in the Constitution, while they lose their credibility with the people they're trying to help. Pretty sad when you think about in those terms. It took a retired Navy guy to take a stand for religious freedom.

Posted by: lmsinca | August 17, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

It's like a breath of fresh air to come back after vacation to your column, Greg, where good sense and clear thinking reigns.

It's a simple matter of making this about the Constitution, as President Obama did over the weekend. And it's good to see these two Democrats standing up to follow suit....with no small measure of eloquence, either.

If the Democrats can keep this about the Constitution....and they refuse to get pulled into the convoluted fear-mongering of the Republicans and their silly web of confusing misstatements.....then at least they stay on solid ground. This is bigger than politics.

People like Joe Sestak who have risked their lives to uphold what's in the Constitution clearly understand that.

Posted by: elscott | August 17, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Ims, good question about what our soldiers in the ME are thinking about all the ugly rhetoric. Too, what are Muslims who are hearing all the crap talk thinking. It's naive to think that none of this is getting through over there. It is.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 17, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

"Dammit, was that so hard? Was that really so risky?"

Finally got two Democrats with a pair. They must not have went to the last meeting. That's where they learn to be ashamed of their legislation and quite on all issues. And what ever you do, don't go against Fox...

Posted by: soapm | August 17, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that two Dems running in very close general election races for open Senate seats would come out so strongly in favor of the Constitution while elected Dems, even those running in safe seats, seem to rather stay quiet.

Note to Dems: being strong is a good thing

Posted by: matt_ahrens | August 17, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

@ Greg Sargent | August 17, 2010 5:27 PM

"two out of six posts, cal."

You must count differently than I do. I get three out of six, or 3 out of 5 topical posts, excluding the Morning Plum.

Let's see, so far today we've got:

* The Morning Plum (regular feature, non-topical)

* House Democrat now politicizing mosque issue (MosqueBlog)

* Rand Paul's solution to unemployment and drugs: Rich people? (non-Mosque)

* Rand Paul stands by claim on unemployment and drugs (non-Mosque)

* Right wing's latest falsehood: Obama "voted present" on Cordoba House (MosqueBlog)

*Breaking: Two Dems back "mosque," sky remains in place (MosqueBlog)

I'm pretty sure that two non-mosque items for every one MosqueBlog post has actually been your average for the past two full weeks now though, excluding regular Morning and Happy Hour round-up's and open threads. I counted.

But it's nice to know though that ~everything else in the world combined~ still rates twice as coverage as the mosque. It's important I think, to always try to keep one's sense of proportion about things.

Posted by: CalD | August 17, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

And Cal, you're right. But I maintain it's an impt story. See the happy hour roundup for why. :)

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 17, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Given how Kristol has been attacking Sestak for speaking at a CAIR function, I'd say this was taking a risk on his part. I, for one, have a new found respect for the guy.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | August 18, 2010 12:47 AM | Report abuse

The Imam worked for the FBI, does that make him a dangerous radical?

Grow up people. There's been a Mosque in the neighborhood since 1970, and America survived. This new building is a community center. The Imam is a long time advocate for peace and understanding between cultures and religions. He's one of the good guys.

I'd rather have a community center near me than a strip club. Why aren't you up in arms over a strip club on hallowed ground?

Posted by: alfredo_tomato | August 18, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

I have to ask:

If instead of Imam Rauf and his group, it was the Westboro Baptist Church (the one that believes "God hates[derisive term for homosexuals" and has made a practice out of picketing soldiers' funerals holding up signs expressing that sentiment), how would you feel about that?

Or what if the NRA announced that it had bought the grounds of Columbine High School and was going to turn the place into its "Second Amendment Museum and Automatic Weapons Firing Range" would you feel that opponents should not criticize that plan since the NRA was clearly exercising its First Amendment rights?

Just curious to see if you are consistent about things like the mosque.

Posted by: maskirovka77 | August 18, 2010 3:00 AM | Report abuse


The President is a master manipulator. The mosque controversey is a bogus problem.

The public discussion about the proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center near ground zero is a red herring - to push headlines away about the oil catastrophe and unemployment.

The name of this fallacy comes from the sport of fox hunting in which a dried, smoked herring, which is red in color, is dragged across the trail of the fox to throw the hounds off the scent. Thus, a "red herring" argument is one which distracts the audience from the issue in question through the introduction of some irrelevancy.

Posted by: alance | August 18, 2010 4:56 AM | Report abuse

I guess the talking points have went out. This is either

1. a non story, a sham, nothing to see here move along because talking about this pains us

2. anyone that opposes it is a bigot

3. this is not about placement, this is about religious freedom ie if you oppose the mosque you must oppose all religious freedom

4. there is a strip club!!!!!!!

Did you guys get the Journo List up and running again?

Posted by: Votingis4Suckers | August 18, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

I think what's really being backed here is the Constitution of the United States.

Posted by: wireman65 | August 18, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Obama backed nothing. He did the right thing at first but then walked it back because he is a political coward.

Posted by: bobmoses | August 18, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Isn't Kristol the falsity defense of homeland security Cheney supporter from Fox News Sunday? Oh, and yes he also writes in something no one ever reads, the
"weekly standard" which I keep next to my American Standard in case the roll expires...

Posted by: mtstewart1 | August 18, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Why doesn't anyone start calling it what Al Qaueda calls it: The Victory Mosque.

Posted by: snowbucks | August 18, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

I'll support it mainly to show that the U.S. is not defined by the white, christian bloc that opposes it.

Posted by: LifeBeforePrinciple | August 18, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse


You asked "would you feel that opponents should not criticize that plan since the NRA was clearly exercising its First Amendment rights?

I "feel" like NRA shouldn't do this, just as I feel it would have been wise for the mosque to be built a bit further away (although nobody has really said what's an acceptable distance).

I KNOW, however, that the NRA, the NY Muslim community, and the lunatics from Westboro Baptist have a constitutional right to build their church without the government placing restrictions on where they do so.

If we can't extend the protections of the Constitution and Bill of Rights to all people in this country, especially those whose speech/religion/ideology we don't like, those documents don't mean much anymore. Nice to see some Democrats publicly recognizing that and trusting the voters to do likewise.

Posted by: kymark | August 18, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

The question after Kathleen Parker's column was, "Do you share Parker's opinion that the mosque must be built?" (Her column seems not to allow comments).

This is a dishonest question because it conflates two different groups. Those who think that the mosque must be built at THIS location and those who think that the mosque must be built but at a DIFFERENT location. Does the second group agree with Parker or disagree?

I have found liberals discussing this question not to be honest.

Also, Palin is being conflated with Gingrich, when in fact her expressed views (an appeal to peaceful Muslims) are closer to those of Reid and Patterson.

So there is plenty of dishonesty on the pro-mosque side.

Of course, some of the anti-mosque people do indeed hate Muslims. For good reason, no one likes their buildings blown up and people killed.

But they do not see the justice of Imam Rauf's implicit complaint that the US has done a lot of harm to the Muslim world, in America's eternal thirst for oil, and the power of AIPAC.

The issue is complex and I see absolutely NO one addressing its full complexity.

Posted by: rohit57 | August 18, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Please look at the site:

So the US is thinking of bombing Iran (with nuclear weapons) in collusion with Israel, thereby killing millions of Muslims, and at the same time showing "tolerance for Muslims" by building a mosque in a location which insults the victims of 9-11.

Is this crazy or what?

If there is a Lose-Lose solution to any problem, rely on the US to find it.

Posted by: rohit57 | August 18, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Islam is an aggressive death cult

Islam treats women as 2nd class members and murders homosexuals

Democrats love that which affronts America, so democrats love islam

November is generic pay-back time....dump the democrats for America

Posted by: georgedixon1 | August 18, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Who cares what Joe (Fired from Nay) Sestak
Alexi(Wannabe senator) Giannoulias say!
This is not a federal game! It is a city state thing! Getoutofit!
Sargent you have become a Johnn One-Note !

Posted by: thornegp2626 | August 18, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse


"The issue is complex and I see absolutely NO one addressing its full complexity."

I wouldn't hold my breath on this one. The people that really want to delve into the complexity of the issue will do just that. They'll take the time to read about it and understand it. Unfortunately, nuanced arguments don't hold much weight when the majority of citizens don't really want to learn more about this issue.

Posted by: ezcheese81 | August 18, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Can someone answer these questions?

1. Who owns the building where the Mosque is to be built?
2 How much was the building sold for?
3. Who is funding the renovations?
4. Why is it called the Cordoba Mosque?

The liberal media, as usual, jumps all over the story, but never gets to the serious issues.

Posted by: jemvbcnyc | August 18, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

A Greek Orthodox church across the street was destroyed in the attack on the Twin Towers. Today the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey after years and years of negotiations essentially killed the prospects of this church being rebuilt in the near future. Here we have a part of the government of the city of New York instead of working with a destroyed Christian church to see that it was rebuilt in a timely manner has done everything in power to see that it was not rebuilt. The city of New York does not practice toleration, it does practice political correctness, and it does practice anti-Christianity. Sad.

Posted by: jeffreed | August 18, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

What an insane discussion about the proposed Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque.

The dems and their media sycophants keep trying to cast the issue as one of religious freedom. that's great but inapplicable since no responsible opponent has called upon the government to STOP the project.

The First Amendment, in spite of jerks such as Nancy Pelosi, prohibits government from interfering with our right of speech...and any American can express an opinion in opposition.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | August 18, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

ezcheese81... What???

The issue is NOT complex and doesn't call for government interference.

The American public has the right and obligation to epxress opinions ... so far more people see the proposed religious center as an example of insensitivity.

Why is this complex?

Posted by: Hazmat77 | August 18, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Is Islam a hate group masquerading as a religion? What good things has Islam brought to any country it dominates?

Posted by: greatgrandmasue | August 18, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Real Americans won't let the drooly-mouthed racists on the Right embarass us and piss on our Constitution. Build the mosque and build it now.

Posted by: FormerRepublicant | August 18, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Is Islam a hate group masquerading as a religion? What good things has Islam brought to any country it dominates?

SAME can be said about Christianity in the past... don't be so arrogant and ignorant... Christians burned non believers alive, killed many in religious wars...

Posted by: kkrimmer | August 18, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

The rights contained in the Constitution are supposed to deal with the hard cases. That's why they are in the Constitution. That's why we have a Constitution. If religious freedom and freedom of speech -- and all of the other protections in the Bill of Rights -- were never controversial there would be no reason to take the time to give them special protection in our fundamental law. Public opinion, and government authorities accountable to public opinion, would always be on their side.

But that is not the way the real world works. And my fear is that years of relentless pounding by a determined right wing movement that would like to undermine our multi-ethnic pluralist democracy in favor of a largely white Christian oligarchy has eroded the consensus around those fundamental Constitutional beliefs and guarantees we once took for granted.

Posted by: TedFrier | August 18, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Maybe you leftists will be lucky and they will hang gays, stone to death people who elope and hack off the heads of non believers at the new Obama 9/11 Victory Mosque.

Posted by: robtr | August 18, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

You mentioned Obama was to be commended for supporting the mosque. Are you aware that Obama retracted his statements the next day. I believe you have an unhealthy infatuation with Obama, as many did prior to his election

Posted by: Kingofkings1 | August 18, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately Pres. Obama is a coward on this issue. But then so is the vast herd of bleeting sheep (Gingrich, Palin, King, et al)on the opposing side. What did we hear during the early Bush years? "They hate us for our freedoms!" Those very freedoms are eroding under the caustic soda of FEAR. Somewhere Osama is smiling.

Posted by: mlx10dp | August 18, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Well, this certainly is an interesting twist on the Heritage Foundation-approved talking points:

"Liberals are casting this as a case of religious freedom. 'No responsible opponent' is calling for construction of the 'mosque' to be halted."


On the other hand, it could be that the right is finally admitting that Newt Gingrich, Bill 'there is no history of sectarian violence in Iraq' Kristol and Congressman Peter King are NOT "responsible" individuals.

Why is no one upset that there is a mosque currently in the Pentagon? Because it wasn't being proposed in a slow news month leading up to a major election.

Posted by: JamesK1 | August 18, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

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