The money bit comes at 4:00. I assume he’s referring to Gingrich, Palin, and other Republican politicos here, not the 71 percent of the public that opposes the mosque. But it’s not clear, which makes this an odd blip in the usual narrative among mosque supporters. Instead of dismissing opposition to it as a deeply felt, semi-psychotic byproduct of the primitive wingnut mind, Bloomy suggests it’s a coolly calculated yet cynical political gambit aimed at picking up House seats. And even stranger than that is the fact that the guy who’s taking the most offense at his theory is Mark Halperin of Time, whom you may remember for his recent column urging the GOP not to use the mosque issue as … a coolly calculated yet cynical political gambit aimed at picking up House seats. (Jim Geraghty’s rejoinder is a must-read.) Then again, the paradox of the “calculating primitive” is nothing new: That was also basically the read on Bush, who was alternately a chimp who needed help going to the toilet and a neo-Hitler deceiving the world into apocalypse as his opponents’ narrative demanded.
The best part here comes at around 6:15 when Stewart and Bloomberg try to figure out why Americans would be more curious about the financing of a mosque than of a church or temple. Not three weeks ago, the German government finally shut down the Hamburg mosque where some of the 9/11 hijackers met; other hijackers patronized a mosque in San Diego led by future jihadi kingpin Anwar al-Aulaqi; Stephen Schwartz, himself a convert to Islam, has spoken out for years against Wahhabist influence in American mosques; and of course the FBI long ago adopted the practice of placing informants inside mosques to find out if any “extracurriculars” are going on there. That the mayor of the city in which the Towers used to stand can’t see why Americans at least want to know where the money’s coming from explains in part why the arguments from prominent GZM supporters aren’t affecting public opinion. Most people simply don’t trust American leaders to speak candidly about this issue. Read atheist (and conservative-hater) Sam Harris for more on that.
Speaking of Park51 financing, the latest idea is tax-free municipal bonds. They have a right to build on their property, so they should have the same right to avail themselves of public funds as any other religious group. But I’ve got a funny hunch this won’t help with the polling.