On Friday night, at a Ramadan break fast, President Obama gave a full-throated defense of Cordoba House, the Mosque and Islamic Cultural planned to be built near Ground Zero in New York.
This follows the administration's announcement earlier this year that Khalid Sheik Mohammed would be tried as a civilian in Manhattan.
Remember him? Dukakis was the "elitist and situationalist" 1988 Democratic nominee who, as Massachusetts governor, vetoed a bill to require teachers to lead their students in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Dukakis discounted patriotism, popular sensibility and the Cold War. Instead, Dukakis proclaimed himself to be a card-carrying member of the ACLU and kept the Pledge outside the classroom.
Dukakis is also remembered for furloughing hardened convicted felons, and being obliviously disconnected at a presidential debate when asked how he would react if his wife were brutally attacked and murdered.
Obama is now taking a page out of Dukakis's book. Obama is letting his inner law professor out. On Friday, Obama said that the First Amendment absolutely protects Cordoba House. On Sunday, the President was saying "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque" at Ground Zero. We have heard this line before -- "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."
Oddly and inconsistently, Obama has also opined that the First Amendment offers Americans only limited Free Speech protection in the course of electoral and issue campaigns, contending that speech must be balanced against the greater good. Obama's Department of Justice argued to the Supreme Court that the government could ban books to prevent the appearance of corruption.
Once again, the chasm between Obama and the citizens of this country is on display. Obama claims to understand the Free Exercise Clause, the provision of the First Amendment to the Constitution that secures our freedom of worship. But, he does not "get" why everyone is upset over a mosque near Ground Zero.
This disconnect between the president and the voters may doom both the Democrats in 2010 and Obama in 2012 -- unlike the Pledge which was only good for one campaign cycle.
Mount Rushmore is safe.
Lloyd Green was an appointee in the Department of Justice during President George H.W.Bush's administration. He was one of the "excellent nerds" of the 1988 Bush Campaign's Research Department.
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