Speaking to reporters today, President Obama drew a sharp line under his comments last night, insisting that his defense of the right to build a mosque does not mean he supports the project.
"I 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," he said.
Obama's new stance is logically consistent with his words last night, if a bit less "clarion," as Mike Bloomberg called the first remarks. And there are certainly two possible stances here: Bloomberg's, that the Cordoba project itself represents the best of America; and Obama's, that the freedom of religion is an important American value.
Obama's new remarks, literally speaking, re-open the question of which side he's on. Most of the mosque's foes recognize the legal right to build, and have asked the builders to reconsider.
But the clarification is, in political terms, puzzling. The signal Obama sent with his rhetoric last night wasn't that he had chosen to make a trivial, legal point about the First Amendment. He chose to make headlines in support of the mosque project, and he won't be able to walk them back now with this sprinkling of doubt. All he'll do is frustrate some of the people who so eagerly welcomed his words yesterday as a return to form. (Source POLITICO)