Noen må ha hvisket Barack Obama noen ord i øret, for lørdag sa han at ikke vil mene noe om klokskapen i å bygge en moske nær Ground Zero, han mente bare å understreke muslimenes rett til å gjøre det.
«not commenting on the wisdom» of the project but trying to uphold the broader principle that the government should treat «everyone equal, regardless» of religion.
«In this country, we treat everybody equally and in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion,» Obama said after giving a speech on the Gulf Coast oil disaster in Panama City, Florida.
Spørsmålet er om denne presiseringen vil bli forstått av velgerne, eller om det gjør situasjonen enda verre: det kan virke som Obama ikke tør stå for sine ord, og går tilbake på dem. Det kan tyde på at han føler han stilte seg lagelig til for hugg.
Men borgermester Michael Bloomberg var glad for støtten.
The president’s remarks drew praise from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced his support for the Islamic center last week. Bloomberg compared Obama’s speech to a letter former President George Washington wrote in support of a Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island. Still, critics of the proposed Islamic center — including Rep. Peter King (R-New York) — quickly denounced Obama’s remarks.
«President Obama is wrong,» King said in a statement. «It is insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero. Unfortunately, the President caved into political correctness.»
On Saturday, Obama said he «was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there.»
«I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding,» the president added. «That’s what our country is about.»
Obama er ikke on top of things i denne saken. Han brukte velkjente fraser om 9/11 – at det var en traumatisk hendelse. Han uttalte seg like forblommet i sin første kommentar etter Fort Hood-massakren.
We must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan,» Obama said. «The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country.»
Dette er et språk motstanderne vet å torpedere og avkle.
«In a breathtakingly inappropriate setting, the president has chosen to declare our memories of 9/11 obsolete and the sanctity of Ground Zero finished,» Debra Burlingame, co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, said in a statement Saturday.
«This controversy is not about religious freedom. 9/11 was more than a ‘deeply traumatic event,’ it was an act of war … Those who continue to target and kill American civilians and U.S. troops will see it as a symbol of their historic progress at the site of their most bloody victory,» she added.