This is certainly an interesting development:
Tuesday, Reps. Peter King (R-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) called Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf — best known for his work with multicultural Cordoba Initiative to build a mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan — a “radical” and criticized the Obama Administration for including him on a Middle East speaking tour. That tour, which includes stops in Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, is designed by the public diplomacy office to explain to Muslims abroad what it’s like to be a Muslim in America.
Outside of how getting constantly called a radical by American politicians busy flacking the proposed “Ground Zero mosque” for political purposes might affect Rauf’s view of what it’s like to be a Muslim in America, there’s one other big problem with King’s and Ros-Lehtinen’s accusation: Rauf already represented America in this way, under the Bush Administration.
If one were to hearken back to the halcyon days of the Bush Administration, one would remember that, when Bush adviser Karen Hughes was appointed Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, the Bush Administration saw improving America’s standing among Muslims abroad as a part of its national security strategy. And, as such, Hughes set up listening tours, attended meetings and worked with interfaith groups that — shocking, by today’s Republican standards — included actual Muslims.
One of those people was Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.
Contemporary press accounts indicate that Rauf and Hughes were part of the February 2006 U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar. He was part of a delegation that met with her in March 2006 and held a joint press conference. A letter to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in November 2007 indicates that contacts with Hughes and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns had continued apace.
First things first: Great research! It’s good to see that there are some liberals out there who still do their homework. That said, how nice it would have been to see them do their homework on the issue of Bush’s Muslim outreach efforts BEFORE he left office instead of lying about how he supposedly “hated” Muslims and was “ruining” our relationships with the Muslim community by viewing them all as closet terrorists? In short, Bush was accused of being an Islamophobe. This willfull, deliberately ignorant attitude, of course, was exemplified by the senior-most member of the US government (aka our celebrity President) when he started the first leg of his “I”m sorry tour” shortly after being sworn in as POTUS, effectively throwing the Bush administration and its outreach efforts under the crowded bus by repeatedly apologizing for how things “were” with Bush and the Muslim community and promising that “they will be better now” (to paraphrase).
In fact, you and I – we ALL remember the hoops the administration jumped through to try and “break bread” with so-called “moderates” to show that Bush and Company were “committed” to “respecting the Islamic faith” – and we heard often how Islam really wasn’t radical, that it was just a tiny few radicals wildly misinterpreting the Koran (not true), yada yada yada ad nauseum. It was done so often to the point that many conservatives were becoming deeply disturbed and concerned that the good faith efforts (example here) on the part of the administration towards the Muslim community would actually harm us more than help us, because inevitably some of the so-called “moderate Muslims” the administration worked closely with would turn out to have ties with, er, shall we say “questionable” Islamic organizations hell bent on, you guessed it, waging jihad against non-believers, including against all of us infidels here in America. Yes, the Ground Zero mosque imam was one of many the administration would turn to sometimes to spread the word on “moderate Islam” – and it was just as bad of an idea then as it is NOW.
So, with that said, what exactly is it that the left is trying to prove with the “Bush did it, too” argument? Certainly they didn’t intend to stumble onto the fact that he DID try to engage with Muslims in America and overseas, therefore negating the “Islamophobe” argument altogether. That doesn’t fit at all with their narrative of Bush as a “hater.” So… are they saying because the imam was around during the Bush years that he “couldn’t have been a radical”? I dunno. I’ve been having a hard time trying to read liberal minds this week, and I’m not going to try and bother with this one.
But here are some things to keep in mind when you read stories about how “Bush did it, too”: While making those naive but well-intentioned good faith efforts, the Bush administration was also agressively prosecuting the war on terror, both at home and abroad, via the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as via the Patriot Act, the FISA authorizations, the CIA aggressive interrogation tactics, Gitmo, etc. People may not have always agreed with his strategies on those fronts – in fact, a fair number of people would argue that he wasn’t aggressive enough in Afghanistan (and I’m leaning towards them being right on that) – but there was no question that his commitment to winning this war was solid and unwavering. Even in the face of growing calls to pull out of Iraq by left wingers – including then-Senator Barack Obama, he refused, eventually having his generals put in place a surge strategy, which proved to be immensely successful.
Oh, and did I mention that our apologist President opposed that surge as a candidate for the highest office in the land, and refused to admit he was wrong about it when pressed after reports of its success in dramatically decreasing the violence in order for the political process to take place? But I digress …
On the other hand, the Obama administration – you know, the ones supposedly “running” things – has been half-hearted in its attempts to get a handle on the on-the-ground situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet has devoted a significant amount of time trying to “make nice” with “leaders” of Islamic – and Islam-friendly countries – who absolutely despise our country, all in an effort to “atone” for how the Bush admin allegedly “destroyed” our relationship with the Muslim world – a relationship that has not really been anything to write home about ever. Let’s also not forget about the mixed bag they’ve presented us on issues like aggressive interrogation techniques and wiretaps.
So, yes, the Bush administration engaged in overkill on the issue of “Muslim outreach,” but at the same time it never lost sight of exactly who the enemy was and that it needed to be defeated – and that our country and its values was worth defending. The Obama adminstration, however, takes the issue of “overkill” on the “outreach” stuff to a dangerous, unprecedented level – at the same time tokenly prosecuting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (aka “Bush’s wars”), and also seemingly taking the blame-America view so commonly held in liberal circles today. Dunno about anyone else, but when it comes to choosing between two Presidents who both naively were on board with using controversial so-called “moderate” imams to spread the message of Muslim “tolerance,” I’ll go with the one who never lost sight of what the big picture was when it came to Islamofascism, who always chose the path of winning a worthy battle over the path of appeasement.