I've been getting wingnut and firebagger emails all day hectoring me (for some reason) about the president's so-called "backpedal" on the mosque.
First of all, you generally don't backpedal on prepared remarks as though those carefully constructed and vetted statements were slips of the tongue -- gaffes. They're not. If the president had accidentally blurted out, "Eff the teabaggers! Praise be to Allah!" That would be a gaffe. The president's remarks on Saturday, on the other hand, were written, revised, planned and approved in advance of the iftar event. So the president fully intended to say what he said.
I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.
In other words, Imam Faisal has a right to setup the Cordoba house wherever local ordinances allow. And the president with his remarks has successfully preserved, protected and defended the Constitution of the United States in the case of the Cordoba fracas.
I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there.
And why should he? Was anyone expecting the president to come out and say, "Look, this was a perfect location for Cordoba. It's close to the subway and a variety of restaurants. Excellent choice, Imam! Who's your realtor? Love it, love it!" That would be silly and a waste of the president's time. And who knows. Maybe the president, if he were a Muslim like too many paranoiacs suggest, wouldn't have recommended that a facility with a mosque be placed in that neighborhood. Who knows and who cares.
I don't recall George W. Bush commenting on the wisdom of putting a Walmart on the Wilderness battlefield in Virginia where there are approximately a gazillion other Walmarts within close driving distance. In fact, I don't recall any of these self-proclaimed more-patriotic-than-thou 9/11 fetishists saying a damn thing about that.
Furthermore, how in the world does the second remark countermand the first one? One has to do with constitutional rights, the other with a personal decision-making process. One is the purview of the chief executive, the other is not.