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Right wing's latest falsehood: Obama "voted present" on Cordoba House

Conservatives opposed to the Islamic center near Ground Zero have hatched what they think is a clever little formulation to describe Obama's position on the project: He voted "present."

This claim has been made by, among others, two writers who have attacked yours truly -- The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto and Big Government's John Sexton. It has been repeated by some in the mainstream media. But it just has no bearing on reality.

I don't know why we have to keep going over this. But Obama's position on the Islamic center isn't complicated: He says it's not his place to endorse it, but insists that once the group decided to build there, it became incumbent upon us to respect the group's decision, in accordance with American ideals dating back to the founding. Is that so difficult?

The basis for the assertion that Obama "voted present," of course, is the idea that he allegedly "walked back" his support for the project on Saturday, after allegedly "endorsing" it on Friday. But neither of those things ever happened.

Here's what did happen, as simply as I can describe it.

On Friday, Obama said, in a nutshell: We must do more than merely tolerate this project in accordance with the group's legal rights. We must also respect the group's decision to build it on the location they chose, even if we disagree with it. We must welcome people of all religions. To do anything less is un-American.

After he said that, there was a national uproar, much of it premised on the notion that Obama had endorsed the project. Obama was asked about that criticism. He responded, in a nutshell: No, no, I didn't actually endorse it. It's not my place to comment on the wisdom of it one way or the other. What I did say was that the group has the right to build it, and that right is central to the values that make us who we are.

In his second statement, Obama actually reiterated the need to keep our American values and identity in mind while debating this issue, which is to say he went further than merely asserting the group's legal rights. Specifically, he said that "as difficult as some of these issues are," we must "stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about." That is a crystal clear assertion that he was standing by the crux of Friday's speech.

The notion that Obama "voted present" on the project is beyond daft. It was never Obama's place to "vote" on the project -- present or otherwise. And he very properly said so.

I will concede one point here: I wish Obama had more clearly said on the first day that it isn't his place to endorse the project. That would have made it tougher for folks to -- wilfully or not -- misrepresent his Friday speech as an endorsement. And that in turn would have made it tougher for them to use his second day statement to diminish the force of the initial speech, and to accuse him of "parsing."

He didn't do that. But still, the facts stand: He never endorsed the project in the first place. He never walked backed the core assertions that made his initial speech powerful. And above all, he never "voted present."

By Greg Sargent  |  August 17, 2010; 3:36 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security  
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Next: Breaking: Two Dems back "mosque," sky remains in place

Comments

He didn't endorse it, he didn't NOT endorse it, and he didn't "vote present." And (let me be clear) he's against those politicians who refuse to make the hard choices.

Posted by: ath17 | August 17, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter what he said or how he nuanced it.

All that matters is catchy phrases for the morons to repeat. They don't give a crap about specifics and just repeat the garbage because all they care about it getting back into power.

But for the sake of having it archived in the annals of the internets, I suppose it's good of you to clear it up.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 17, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

You've got to wonder how hard it is for someone to understand the concept of seperation of church and state. The President is not a private citizen, he is the representative of the United States government when he speaks. In matters like this he doesn't get to have a private opinion on whether the community center should be built. He expressed the view of the United States government and the US Constitution - they have the right to build it and the government and it's representatives can't say anything different.

Now if unelected private citizens like a disgraced congressman who had to resign his seat due to ethics issues or half term governor who quit because she was afraid of the media want to say something as private citizens that is their right. Since they both quit their jobs they can't vote anything and that's fine since they in no way represent the Federal Government and have no power to make any laws that would infringe on the rights of the builders of this community center.

But when the Senate Majority and Minority leaders weigh in with their private views of whether it should be built (not whether or not they have the right to build it) they need to shut up because they, like the President, do represent the federal government.

Posted by: zattarra | August 17, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

@Greg

As a former broadcast journalist I count you among very few who live up to the journalistic ideals I was taught in school and in the workplace. Shows what a dinosaur I am.....has everything changed!!!!

You and Rachel Maddow are the two journalists at the top of my list!!!

Having said that...watching you engage these two losers is kind of like when I read my own posts after engaging one of our trolls. You are trying to argue with logic and rational thought...that's not the game they're playing. Logic, facts, are irrelevant, it's symbols and emotion and fear.

It's almost as if you are playing basketball Greg while the frighties are playing football.

Posted by: rukidding7 | August 17, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

@zattarra Excellent points!

Posted by: rukidding7 | August 17, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Greg: Your "One of the finest moments" post is reading like satire:

"Ultimately, though, Obama's speech transcends the politics of the moment, and will go down as a defining and perhaps even a breakthrough performance. Obama recognized that this dispute is a seminal one that goes to the core of our running argument about pluralism and minority rights and to the core of who we are. He understood that the gravity of the moment required an equally large and momentous response. And he delivered.

UPDATE, 8:21 p.m.: Did Obama really walk back his support for the project?"

Posted by: ath17 | August 17, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

@z: excellent point that Obama also made: "I am not commenting on the wisdom of the Mosque location." As the president, the representative of our federal government, OBAMA SHOULD NOT EXPRESS AN OPINION AS IT WOULD CONSTITUTE THE GOVERNMENT INTERFERING WITH RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION AND FAVORING OR CONDEMNING A SPECIFIC RELIGION. That silly 1st amendment thing...

Posted by: srw3 | August 17, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Some pretty funny Park51 snark...don't miss the comments section.

http://www.rumproast.com/index.php/site/comments/meet_the_neighbors_a_stroll_around_my_hallowed_neighborhood/

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 17, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The problem is, as usual, there are a bunch of people on the left side who are reciting the same "walked it back" crap as the Right-wingers.

Posted by: Kristi1 | August 17, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Kristi1, I thoroughly agree with that. I don't know why that happened.

and thx RU and Mike, appreciate that.

and zattarra, that's the essence of this: It isn't his place to endorse the project.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 17, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Greg:

Its a valiant effort, but I think you are fighting against the tide. The conventional wisdom of out punditry has decided that the President walked it back, and so it is settled: the President waffled, regardless of what words he actually spoke.

Posted by: QuiteAlarmed | August 17, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, I wonder how someone can "express strong support for" the Cordoba House and at the same time say "it's not his place to endorse it".

The answer is, you can't. Obama, and more specifcally, you, goofed. Own it and quit foaming at the mouth.


Greg Sargent:"One of the finest moments of Obama's presidency
A few quick thoughts about Obama's forceful speech yesterday expressing strong support for Cordoba House.."


Greg Sargent: "I don't know why we have to keep going over this. But Obama's position on the Islamic center isn't complicated: He says it's not his place to endorse it.."

Posted by: popopo | August 17, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Greg, lost in much of this debate is the fact that two Constitutional rights are in question, not just one. In as much as the First Amendment protects the religious freedom of the Muslims to build, it also protects the rights of others to protest that decision. While politicians looking foolish is the order of the day, no one has yet done anything other than voice opinions, level-headed and otherwise. The courts have acted to protect the religious rights on behalf of the mosque. Let's not pretend that those opposed are REQUIRED to shut up!

Posted by: 54465446 | August 17, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

This whole issue is depressing.

1) The GOP doesn't intend to stop the mosque, they aim to inject racial tension into the political debate.

2) Remember when the wingnuts were saying al quada "hated us for our freedoms?" That turns out to have been projection.

Let us go ahead and set that aside for a moment and let me address the question Obama alluded to: Is it wise for the Muslims in question to build so close to ground zero?

The answer depends, as far as I'm concerned, on one question: Is there a Muslim population in that area that would appreciate such an institution? If there is, build it. But if there isn't, and you are building it to anger people who don't worship they way you do, then don't build it. New York is a big city, getting around can be... well, few people own a car. A community center like the Cordoba project needs to be in the community it intends to serve. Building it 40 blocks away would be pointless.

Duh.

Look, Muslims died in the Sept 11th attacks. Al Quada's main victims, historically speaking, are Muslims. If anybody should hate al quada, it is Muslims.

And don't give me that nonsense about "sensibilities." If we are going down that road let's stop Catholic churches from being built next to playgrounds. 3,000 people died on Sept 11th, but how many die each year from gunfire? What about the sensitivities of the families of those gunned down? Should we do away with guns?

This was just the result of the GOP’s “xenophobic kitchen sink” strategy. They threw as much xenophobic/racist/nativist stuff as they could at the Democrats and hoped something would stick. Shirley Sherrod, New Black Panther Party, 14th amendment, anchor babies... Is it a coincidence that all these non issues came up so close to an election or is it a part of a (southern) strategy?

Here is a general rule you can follow to tell whether Republicans are making a principled stand or just playing political games: Is there any way the GOP will be able to follow through on the issue they are going on about? If there is no way they can actually change the outcome, they are playing games. The Cordoba Mosque? There is no way (legally) that they can stop it. Amending the constitution to outlaw gay marriage or do away with flag burning or the 14th amendment? There is NO way they will ever be able to amend the constitution in such a manner.

Posted by: nisleib | August 17, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Greg for setting the record straight.

I agree that many on the left, who are still reeling from Sen. Reid's weak-kneed response, are too quick to jump to the conclusion that they've been sold out again by Obama. It didn't happen this time.

Posted by: Alex3 | August 17, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

popopo -- come on. he was expressing strong support for the project in the sense that he expressed strong support for the right of the group to build it, by, crucially, going beyond a discussion of their legal rights and casting it as a referendum on who we are as Americans.

besides, what does one sentence in my post have to do with anything? shouldn't we be focused on what the President actually said? seems more germane to a discussion of...what the president actually said.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 17, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Wow, do the liberals hate being in the receiving end. These are the same tactics they employed against Bush.
Here's a perfect example: when did Bush give up golf and why?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | August 17, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

@srw3: "OBAMA SHOULD NOT EXPRESS AN OPINION AS IT WOULD CONSTITUTE THE GOVERNMENT INTERFERING WITH RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION AND FAVORING OR CONDEMNING A SPECIFIC RELIGION"

Dang, now I'm agreeing with srw3. Something must be wrong.

BTW, I've heard from reliable sources that the next brilliant ploy to come out of the GOP is to ask Obama when he "stopped beating his wife". When Obama says, "Well, I never!" then they'll run ads saying that Obama admits that he never stopped beating his wife.

That original speech was really good, and Obama's position is completely comprehensible. I can only guess that if unemployment were 5% right now that the economy was booming, this stuff wouldn't be getting nearly as much traction as it is.

"Make a decision Mr. President! Are you for it or against it?"

"Well, what if I say I'm for it?"

"Then we run ads saying that you support putting a giant mosque directly on ground zero, and surrounding it with a moat of orphan tears."

"What?"

"That's right, orphan tears."

"Well, okay. What if I say I'm against it?"

"Then we say you're late to the party and a hypocrite, and didn't believe all that nonsense about the constitution and what not. And that you're a flip-flopper."

"But you're saying I voted present! How could I be a flip-flopper for taking a position when you say I was bad for not taking one?"

"Because that's just how we roll."

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 17, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Here's a perfect example: when did Bush give up golf and why?

Right after he was speaking solemnly regarding the sacrifices of the troops then turned around and said "Now watch this drive."

Posted by: mikefromArlington | August 17, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Breaking news...

Lawyers for both Robert and Rod Blagojevich say they were summoned to court and were told that Rod and Robert Blagojevich should appear there too.

Behind-the-scenes signals are that a conclusion is imminent and will be read in one hour.

Barricades are being set up outside where Rod Blagojevich walks into the courthouse.

The development comes on the 14th day of deliberations in the case and after jurors signaled this morning that some discord remained on the 12-member panel.

Jurors today asked for a copy of the oath they took when they were seated as well as instructions on how to fill out their verdict form if they can't reach a unanimous decision on a certain count or counts.


http://blogs.suntimes.com/blago/2010/08/blagojevich_trial_rod_and_rob_1.html

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 17, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Skip - Bush gave up golf because of his knee problems. His last game of golf was October 13,2003.

Yes, we know he claims to have quit golf after the UN bombing in August of 2003, but that was a bit of a misexagerationalization, seeing as how he was still playing months later.

Why? How is that relevant?

Posted by: nisleib | August 17, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Skipper again could you stick to some facts.

The left didn't jump on Bush for not giving up golf. The left..and in particular Keith Olbermann...jumped on Bush because he SAID he was giving up golf and then was caught out on the golf course. The main objection has nothing to do with playing golf...it was because Bush tried to take credit for not playing golf when that was clearly not the case!

Here is a novel concept for you Skippy...
A link to confirm my post...

http://mythandhope.blogspot.com/2008/05/bush-bullshit-about-golf.html

Posted by: rukidding7 | August 17, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Bush has a Constitutional right to give up golf whenever he wants to. He even has a Constitutional right to give it up at the men's only club in Augusta, Georgia.

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 17, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Jerry Nadler's (Congressional Rep for Manhattan) perfect answer, CNN 8/15/10:

CROWLEY: Congressman Nadler, do you think there is common ground? I mean, it seems to me that there are people who are righteously aggrieved at what everyone in this country agrees was a horrible thing that took place on 9/11, and then there are the principles on which the country was founded. Is there space inside there to find something that would make most people happy?

NADLER: Well, that's really up to the imam and the people around him. They have to decide what they want to do.

CROWLEY: Would you like them to?

NADLER: I am not going to comment on that, because I don't think it's proper for any government official to pressure them in any way. And if I were to say that I think it's a good idea for them to do it, since I am a government official, that would be government pressuring them.

But it's up to them. If they want to do that, they're certainly free to do it.

But I want to point out several things. One, there is a mosque in the Pentagon, which is also hallowed ground. No one objects to that. Second, the people who want to build this facility, which is partially a mosque and partially a community center, have a mosque a few blocks away from there, which no one has objected to.

And thirdly, objecting to this mosque would be as objectionable if you wouldn't object to a church or a synagogue in the same place because that's blaming all Islam and you can't blame an entire religion.

And finally, I would take the sincerity of many of the Republican critics of this, Peter King very much accepted, much more -- I would understand the sincerity much more if they were supporting, as Peter is, but very few other Republicans are, the bill to give health care coverage to the 9/11 heroes and responders which all but 12 Republicans voted against in the House last week.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 17, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

But I, personally, do not care if he gives up golf or not. I do care, however, if he lies about it for political gain.

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 17, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Here's a dose of wishful thinking...or maybe he's been visiting the Aqua Buddha?

Rubio: 'Ground Zero Mosque' Controversy Won't Hurt U.S.-Muslim Relations

"Marco Rubio says that Muslims in other nations should look fondly on the United States as a bastion of religious tolerance following the Cordoba House flap. Rubio, the Florida Republican running against Independent Gov. Charlie Crist in a tight Senate race, has joined the chorus of politicians publicly opposing the proposed lower Manhattan Islamic cultural center on the grounds that building it would be "opening wounds" from 9/11.

"I would point out to Muslims all over the world that America is one of the few countries on earth where every faith is represented," Rubio said. "We have a long and cherished tradition of religious liberties and freedom, and none of that is being questioned in my mind."

"The question" about the Cordoba House, Rubio added, "is whether it's the right thing to do, not the legal thing to do. Building a mosque there has opened wounds, and it's been hurtful. And that's why I think it's not the right place at the right time."

(Is Rubio completely oblivious to the Florida church that wants to burn Korans on 9/11?)

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 17, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

@Kevin....."I can only guess that if unemployment were 5% right now that the economy was booming, this stuff wouldn't be getting nearly as much traction as it is."

BINGO!

Posted by: rukidding7 | August 17, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

YEAH, YEAH.

Rememer the howling you guys did when the right pointed out that Obama was golfing during the gulf oil spill?

that's the point. The opposition will focus on anything they percieve as a weakness and grind away at it.

Kevin is complaining about demagoguery, but let's broaden the example. Many on the right believe that the American press is biased toward liberals. Therefore many on the right think it is smart politics to deflect hectoring questions about specifics emanating from such tilted sources as Chris Matthews. This is simply a way to avoid giving the opposition ammuntion.

Heck look at how Mr Sargent jumps with both feet on anything Angle or Paul say with which he disagrees. If Mr Sargent thinks its a gaffe it goes straight to his blog.

That's the landscape now. If it is toxic the left can blame no one but themselves. Not only did they use these tactics in thier turn but they did nothing to improve the civility of discourse in America for the entire bush admin.

This is just Obama having to live in the world he helped to create. Whining about it won't change it.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | August 17, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

suekzoo1 - Nice quote.

I particularly like this part, "Building a mosque there has opened wounds, and it's been hurtful."

How to unpack that? That is a lot of lie for so few words.

For one thing, they haven't started to build.

For another thing, it isn't the imam in question that has opened wounds; it is rightwingers who have opened the wounds. They did it intentionally, no less, and for the express purpose of injecting racial/xenophobic tension into the political debate.

Ironically this whole issue comes on the heals of near unanimous Republican opposition on a bill that would have funded the health care of the first responders of September 11th. What reason did the GOP give for going against this bill? They wanted to add an amendment saying no illegal aliens are allowed to receive any of this health care. Why? If there were illegal aliens helping out at ground zero why shouldn't they be able to get the same assistance that the rest of the 9/11 heroes get? The answer, obviously, is that the GOP wants people to know that they really, really, really, really, really hate brown people.

Pathetic.

Posted by: nisleib | August 17, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

ruk, not so sure on that BINGO. Afterall, Obama could be a SEEKRIT MOOSLIN, ya know...ask nearly any teabagger....

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 17, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

@suekzoo As a Floridian I can assure you that Rubio is completely oblivious!

As Speaker of the Fla House he gave away sooo many favors to the special interests that he quadrupled his income in just a few years. He took a six figure "teaching" position at a community school after he secured millions in state funding for that very school.

His successor and protege...another crooked Florida politician got caught doing the same thing and has been thrown out of office and indicted.

But he is handsome...he does preach cut taxes cut taxes and so the tea party crowd is willing to forgive the fact that he profited handsomely on THEIR tax dollars!

Posted by: rukidding7 | August 17, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

suekzoo:

Apparently Mr. Rubio does not understand that all nations do not share our value system. In many countries, religious freedom and tolerance is NOT seen as a plus. We can't wish this away or pretend that it doesn't matter. In many nations we maintain contact only with the most highly educated, the most Westernized if you will, individuals. Of course we then take their opinion which so closely mirrors our own as Gospel. It's a mistake we make over and over again.

Posted by: 54465446 | August 17, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"I can only guess that if unemployment were 5% right now that the economy was booming, this stuff wouldn't be getting nearly as much traction as it is."

I don't know if I agree with that.

I tend to think that these sorts of wedge issues work better when there's not much else going on or when people are feeling more secure economically. "It's the economy, stupid", remember?

This may be red meat for their base, but their base is going to be out in droves in November anyway. The question is, what does this sort of talk do to independents? I know the polling right now is 70% against the project, but are people (independents) going to basing their votes in 3 months on this issue alone? If I've been unemployed for 2 yrs and can't find a job, I don't know how happy I'd be with all of the time and energy that's been put into this issue. I tend to think that any day the Repubs aren't talking about the economy is probably a good day for Dems.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | August 17, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Heck look at how Mr Sargent jumps with both feet on anything Angle or Paul say with which he disagrees.

It's not just that they are saying things that are disagreeable, it's that they are saying things that are just nuts!

Second Amendment remedies.
Aqua Buddha.
Slush fund.
Mean to BP.

If we could just get to conversations where there is disagreement, that would raise the level of discourse 100% But the GOP in general and Paul and Angle in particular just spout nonsense.

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 17, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon and welcome back to MosqueBlog.

Posted by: CalD | August 17, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

@sue: "ruk, not so sure on that BINGO. Afterall, Obama could be a SEEKRIT MOOSLIN, ya know...ask nearly any teabagger...."

Even assuming that tea partiers are actually overly concerned about possible Seekrit Mooslim's in the Whitehouse, I can tell ya, if they and their friends all had good jobs, and they had just got paid, and there house just sold and they were moving on up, even there was a couple of hundred bucks burning a hole in their pocket . . . they'd be a less lot worried about Seekrit Mooslims. If all of those folks that had invested in pets.com and peapod and COVAD and Enron and whoever back before the dot-com-bust still had all their paper profits and felt like they were riding high, if their mortgages weren't underwater, if there primary fear wasn't something happening to the air conditioner or the car because how can they afford to fix it, and it's so hot outside--I have a hard time believing people could make such hay over a Muslim community center in Manhattan if most folks were content and happy and going about their daily, gainfully employed lives, and felt secure in their jobs, etc . . .

Could be wrong, of course.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 17, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

@CalD: "Good afternoon and welcome back to MosqueBlog"

Greg's gotta eat, dude. It's all about the benjamins. If by benjamins, I mean daily web traffic, which I do.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 17, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

What's more interesting is that the GOP jumps in with both feet to defend (and vote for) lunatics like Angle and Paul and Palin and Maes and ....

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 17, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

And Ron Johnson --

Businessman Ron Johnson, the likely Republican nominee against Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), says that man-made global warming is a myth -- it's sunspots that are to blame for climate change. Furthermore, he said, more carbon dioxide is a good thing that helps trees grow.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/08/gop-senate-candidate-johnson-global-warming-caused-by-sunspots-carbon-emissions-are-good-for-trees.php?ref=fpb

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

kevin, what you say is true enough, and possibly it would be as big a thing. I do realize that financial insecurity breeds a lot of fear in people, and especially fear of "those others."

But the SEEKRIT MOOSLIN crap got started well before the election, and before the economy went haywire.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 17, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

@rukidding7,Kevin_W: it is scary seeing such agreement. I think that "this stuff" [scary mooselems coming to dance on the 9/11 victims' buried remains and incidentally impose Sharia law on everyone in the US(?)] will be trotted out for every election as long as it works. The bad economy makes it more effective, but the periodic appearance issues like, Christians persecuted by the godless secular-humanist society, evil brown skinned immigrants coming to take our jobs, scary black men coming to take what is ours, wicked commies coming to take over the govt., etc. are brought up by elements of the right (most recently) that live to demagogue people that are "different" and "not like us" for partisan gains at the expense of the country as a whole.

Posted by: srw3 | August 17, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with Kevin. I believe that the gotcha environment would remain even if the economy were roaring.

the left never stopped playing gotcha with Bush, as my question about golf sought to illustrate. Certainly the economy was better then than now.

So perhaps it isn't the economy but something else. After the left justified its horrid behavior during the Bush years by claiming that the stakes were high. Their righteous indignation about the war resulted in all manner of ghastly behavior. Sadly it also created the uncivil environment in which we now function.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | August 17, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

All, check out the very admirable stand taken by Joe Sestak and Illinois Dem Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias on the mosque:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/08/breaking_two_dem_senate_candid.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 17, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

"And Ron Johnson"

Isn't this the dude who thinks it would be just a swell idea to drill for oil under Lake Michigan? I think it is....

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 17, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Gee ... and I thought it all started with Lee Atwater and Karl Rove.

Remember the push poll in the 2000 South Carolina primary where the Bush campaign smeared McCain? Was that a left wing plot too skippy?

Posted by: cmccauley60 | August 17, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

skippy: "I disagree with Kevin. I believe that the gotcha environment would remain even if the economy were roaring. the left never stopped playing gotcha with Bush"

When was it again that the economy was "roaring" under Bush? All empirical evidence indicates it never was.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | August 17, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Skip - so the last 40 years of the Republicans using the Southern Strategy is the lefts fault?

Really?

Where do you get this nonsense?

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

@sue: "When was it again that the economy was 'roaring' under Bush? All empirical evidence indicates it never was."

By all the traditional economic indicators, it was doing all right. Relatively low unemployment, decent GDP, low inflation, etc., etc. Some of that turns out to have been a house of cards. Or all smoke and mirrors. Still, the economy was in much better shape then than now, if judging by nothing but the unemployment numbers.

But, perhaps it (the Mosque stuff) would be happening, either way.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 17, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

This whole business about voting "present" (as a supposed indicator of a having a weak character i.e. not having the fortitude to take a clear stand on issues) harkens back to a canard the GOP put out about President Obama based on several votes he cast while serving in the Illinois State Senate, before he was elected to the US Senate. I believe he voted "present" on several votes relating to bills restricting abortion rights. The truth is that that his vote of "present" was by pre-arrangement with pro-choice groups and was for strategic purposes and did not represent a refusal to take sides on the issue. Of course that didn't stop the Republicans from distorting the facts and trying to hang a charge of gutlessness on him. Truth just doesn't matter to these people.

Posted by: nancyellen879 | August 17, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

It must be great to have a personal cheer leading news source for you Dem's. Yes WAPO is always on the side of whatever trash spews from the Democratic party and it's allies.

OK now Dem's!!! Group hug with Mr Sargent!! Now didn't that feel good!

I'm gonna go puke now....

Posted by: WHOOSONPHIRST | August 17, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm outraged that there is a proposal to build Catholic cathedral next to a playground.

Talk about insensitive, its a stab in the heart to every child molested by a priest (which outnumbers 9/11 victims by many thousands to one).

Posted by: fakedude1 | August 17, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

@ss28: Sadly it [dems treatment of bush!!!] also created the uncivil environment in which we now function.

Hey skippy, did you miss travelgate, Clinton blamed for Vince Foster's suicide, the entire whitewater debacle, IMPEACHMENT OF A SITTING PRESIDENT!!! against the will of the American people, etc. The spirit of civility left when Newtie, and his buds made the decision that it was better politics to try and kill clinton's presidency than to actually try to govern...

Dems in congress much to my unending dismay, gave Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iraq, the immolation of the bill of rights, and tax cuts for the wealthy x 2.

Given bush lost the popular vote, he got a tremendous pass from the dems who allowed him to drive the country off a cliff of war and debt, especially for the first 6 years.

Posted by: srw3 | August 17, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Another Obama cover story Greg? Really? This is getting pretty pathetic. This story is a lot more complex and has a lot more substance to it than the constant bickering between repubs vs. democrats vs. Obama. We're all sick of listening to these morons. Why don't you put your mancrush on Obama aside and do some real journalism.

Posted by: peterg73 | August 18, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for the reality check, Greg Sargent. It's idiotic that it's necessary, but just read the comments here and it clearly is. I agree with your entire summary since that is actually what happened.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter1 | August 18, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Greg fella-me-lad, the fact that you have to write an entire column to rebut a 2-line summation of Obama's remarks proves that it's not just clever, it's dead on. As in not commenting on the widsom of the act. If it's not's not the PRESIDENT'S place to comment on the wisdom of an act causing such a national uproar, who has such a place? The President is one of only two elected officials for whom the entire electorate votes. Who else can speak for and to a political concern of 300+ million Americans?

You LOSE sir.

Posted by: Vandervecken | August 18, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Put another way: ya ever heard of the Bully Pulpit, Greg, or is that a new one on you?

Posted by: Vandervecken | August 18, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

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