Media Watch: America’s Shifting Statehouse Press
The latest to weigh in: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), who is battling to keep his seat in Nevada.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Jim Manley, Reid came out against the building of the Islamic center.
“The First Amendment protects freedom of religion,” Manley wrote in an e-mail. “Senator Reid respects that, but thinks that the mosque should be built someplace else.”
He added: “If the Republicans are being sincere, they would help us pass this long overdue bill to help the first responders whose health and livelihoods have been devastated because of their bravery on 9/11, rather than continuing to block this much-needed legislation.”
Matthew Shaffer from NRO points to two more Democrats who believe the mosque should be built elsewhere:
It’s not just Harry Reid. Jeff Greene, a Democrat running for Senate from Florida, had a strongly worded response to President Obama’s remarks at the White House Ramadan dinner: “President Obama has this all wrong and I strongly oppose his support for building a mosque near Ground Zero especially since Islamic terrorists have bragged [about] and celebrated destroying the Twin Towers.”
Greene was careful to distinguish legal right from moral rectitude: “Freedom of religion might provide the right to build the mosque in the shadow of Ground Zero, but common sense and respect for those who lost their lives and loved ones gives sensible reason to build the mosque someplace else.” He suggested that Obama could have shown better leadership by “calling on the mosque’s supporters to find a more appropriate location.”
Rep. Jason Altmire, a Democrat from Pennsylvania’s 4th district, echoed Greene. In an interview on KDKA radio he emphasized that “there should be some discussion about what is right morally, as well as just what you’re allowed to do.” He added, “I think that the people who are supportive of putting the mosque there are missing the point of the impact and the devastation that [Sept. 11] had to us as a country.”
Religiously intolerant bigots! Why, they sound just like us hateful Rethuglicans …
Seriously, could this issue possibly become more embarassing for the President? He royally screwed up in his initial responses, and now the Senate majority leader himself is coming out against building the mosque two blocks from Groud Zero. A dejected Greg Sargent writes in response:
Despite Reid’s reaffirmation of this right, his response is still weak and indefensible. And it leaves the President hanging after he took a big risk to do the right thing. Obama did not explicitly endorse the decision to build the center. But Obama did say that if the group does proceed with that decision, we must respect that decision, in accordance with American values.
Reid is not willing to say that. Rather, he’s saying, in effect, that even if he supports the group’s right to build the center, he’s not willing to respect the decision to do so. That’s unacceptable, and leaves Obama isolated at a very sensitive moment.
What’s more, it’s unclear why coming out against the plan in the manner Reid did is even good politics for Democrats at this point. Reid basically threw the whole Dem caucus under the bus: With the Senate leader at odds with the president, the media will press every Senate Dem to declare which side they’re on.
And this fuels a bad narrative for Dems, too. Literally seconds after Reid’s statement hit the wire, Republicans blasted out a press release mocking the Dem disarray on this issue with this tagline: “Great moments in August Democratic Messaging.” This just makes the Dems look weak, unorganized, cowardly, and unwilling to take a stand for principles they plainly believe in.
To the contrary. It makes these three look very principled – on this issue, anyway. No doubt there was an element of political gain to their remarks, but whatever. They’re good enough for me.