Over the weekend, Politico’s Ben Smith and Maggie Haberman pointed out the Republican defenders of the “ground zero mosque” were vastly outnumbered by Republicans who catered to “hostility toward Islam among many Republican voters” and saw openings to attack Democrats over national security. There’s no question that those Republicans are winning the argument. But they’re winning the argument because they’re not the only people who think big shows of American tolerance will fail to stop terrorists from recruiting…
The 2009 Arab Opinion Poll, conducted by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, showed Obama single-handedly spiking Muslim optimism about American foreign policy up to 51 percent. In the 2010 poll, it fell back to a Bush-level 16 percent. The Obama magic fell flat here, too: In February 2010, a poll for the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies found 53 percent of Americans viewing Islam unfavorably.
The bad feelings weren’t all Obama’s fault. They were the result of reality crashing in, of foreign policy remaining a mess. But they’re like the bitterness that Americans feel about the 2009 economic stimulus, which was oversold and has become politically toxic because its success is hard to measure. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the promise of the Cordoba Initiative, the group involved in the planned mosque for Lower Manhattan, is easy for conservatives and Republicans to deride. When Americans are asked to look past their initial reactions and back the building of the mosque because it will send a good message, they’re being asked to believe in a new kind of hope and change.
Faced with difficult choices, the alleged party of small government always retreats to the lazy politics of Kulturkampf. Hey, that guy’s a “card-carrying member” of the ACLU! Ask me about my flag-burning amendment!
John Cornyn, R-Texas, head of GOP efforts to take back the Senate this fall, plans to make the Park51 “mosque” a major campaign issue. It’s all too typical: Feed the rubes conservative identity politics, and, with luck, they’ll be too distracted to notice you’ve grafted a Republican “K Street Project” atop the same old edifice of Big Government.
The establishment Right wants to play the Tea Party movement for suckers. It remains to be seen whether they’ll play along.***
Somebody’s got to say that, “We’re not going to act like the people who stole freedom from Americans, the people who attacked America and killed 3,000 people.”