Via Greg Hengler, a silly question gets a silly answer. How else could he respond? “Why yes, in light of the catastrophic polling on this issue for my party, I should have avoided even the lame, equivocating statement I gave initially”? His disapproval rating has been creeping up in Gallup ever since he weighed in, rising from 48 percent last week to a siren-worthy 52 percent today. Of course he regrets it. But now he’s stuck with it, so here’s his — very — perfunctory show of resoluteness in the face of self-generated adversity.
The media meme du jour, naturally enough, is that the mosque debate is causing an intra-party crack-up — on the right. Our Democratic president is at odds with our Democratic Senate majority leader, and our Democratic Speaker of the House has lost her ever-lovin’ mind, and meanwhile national polls show even a majority of Democrats in opposition to the mosque, and yet … somehow it’s conservatives who have been torn apart by this issue. Good work, Politico. So batty have liberals become, in fact, that supposedly clear-eyed, battle-hardened, bottom-line political operative Mark Halperin is now screaming for Obama to wade in further on the mosque’s behalf instead of shutting up until this goes away:
HALPERIN’S TAKE: Really??!! Another presidential comment on this sensitive matter made on the fly in response to a press question? The political and substantive damage will continue until Obama explains his position in detail and (in a dignified and uplifting way) explains why his critics are wrong. This is a classic case of a politician losing control of his public image on a key issue — only in this instance, it has implications for the whole world.
I think a long windy lecture from The One explaining to the 65 percent of the public that opposes the mosque why they’re xenophobic yokels is just what the doctor ordered for a midterm rebound. On a serious note, though, I do agree with Rove and various other GOP strategists that it’d be foolish (and potentially destructive) for Republican pols to hammer this issue too hard. I think centrists and indies are looking, above all, for seriousness of purpose from the GOP about digging the country out of the near-bottomless pit of Obamanomics, especially given the rap on the party in the past for getting “sidetracked” with cultural issues. For every one part mosque messaging, I’d prefer 10 parts messaging on jobs and the economy. Besides, Democrats are in full meltdown over this anyway; if any indies are ripe for the picking on the mosque issue, it’ll be the spectacular idiocy and sneering contempt of Madam Speaker and her colleagues that turns them to the GOP, not anything coming from Newt Gingrich. Rock on, Nancy!