President Obama's defense of Muslims' right to build a mosque near Ground Zero was a sharp rebuke to most of the contemporary Republican Party, but it was very much in line with the tone of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who had waged his own internal party wars over his insistence that Islam is a "religion of peace."
A former senior Bush aide, chief speechwriter Michael Gerson, told POLITICO last night that he supports Obama's decision.
"An enormously complex and emotional issue -- but ultimately the right thing to do," Gerson said. "A president is president for every citizen, including every Muslim citizen. Obama is correct that the way to marginalize radicalism is to respect the best traditions of Islam and protect the religious liberty of Muslim Americans. It is radicals who imagine an American war on Islam. But our conflict is with the radicals alone."
(with Mike Allen)
August 14, 2010, Ben Smith