An unexpected name has suddenly been thrown into the Ground Zero mosque debate: former President George W. Bush.
"I think it would be good if he stepped into the fray," said Ibrahim Hooper, the national spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), "and told other Republicans to cool it."
CAIR has been a primary leader in supporting the planned development of Cordoba House, an Islamic community center near Ground Zero that would include a mosque. Hooper told Fox Wednesday that he believes the former president would support the mosque plans, based on Bush's continual effort, during his administration, to separate the acts of the September 11 terrorists from the Islam religion as a whole.
"It's interesting to have people openly longing for the Bush administration," Hooper said, "but if he did anything right, it was that - to studiously avoid the perception that we're at war with Islam."
If Hooper's remarks about the former president seem surprising, it's with good reason. CAIR hasn't always bestowed Bush with praise, previously referring to some of his foreign policy decisions as "unjust" and "disturbing." The group also accused Bush of contributing to "a rising level of hostility to Islam and the American-Muslim community" after the former president declared in 2006 that America was "at war with Islamic fascists."
CAIR isn't the only one looking for the former president to weigh in on the mosque debate. Even some of Bush's most vocal critics during his years in the White House - New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd and Washington Post writer Eugene Robinson just to name a couple - expressed admiration, and even a touch of wistfulness, for Bush's steadfast support of American Muslims.
David Sherzer, spokesman for President George W. Bush, said they had "no comment."