President Obama's mosque comments overwhelm news that mosque planners were "open" to talking about moving away from Ground Zero

According to a report by the New York Daily News, the Ground Zero mosque developers were open to discussing moving the mosque to a location away from Ground Zero:

Sponsors of the proposed mosque near Ground Zero are not slamming the door on Gov. Paterson‘s idea to build the center someplace else.

“We are open to a conversation to find out more on what the governor has in mind,” the center, Park51, said in a Twitterpost yesterday.

While mosque opponents charge the chosen site is insensitive to 9/11 victims, Paterson doesn’t oppose the planned location.

He suggested earlier this week it might ease tensions if the center was further away from Ground Zero, and raised the possibility of offering state-owned land.

No one knows if mosque developers were sincere in their claim that they were willing to talk about building their mosque somewhere other than Ground Zero, but still the news could have helped tamp down some of the anger. Whatever traction the mosque planners’ comments got in the media and on the internet, however, evaporated instantly upon the news of President Obama’s pointed remarks at the White House Iftar dinner Friday night:

Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities — particularly New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. And the pain and the experience of suffering by those who lost loved ones is just unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. And ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.

But let me be clear. As a citizen, and as president, 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. This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are. The writ of the founders must endure.

The president’s comments reverberated across the country, turning what was a local problem into a national issue and creating even more angst than had existed before he inserted himself into the debate.

S.E. Cupp was accurate when she argued on Hannity last night that Obama’s comments were well thought out and purposeful. However, I disagree with her assessment that they were made in an effort to distract the American people from the economy. Rather, the president made his comments for the benefit of Muslims both here in America and overseas. The problem as Deborah Burlingame, who was also on Hannity last night, pointed out, the American people were also listening. Pat Cadell was on along with Deborah and agreed that Obama’s comments were said purposefully, but when Hannity asked him to explain what the president was trying to accomplish with his remarks, Pat was at a loss:

It didn’t help that the next day the president attempted to diminish the significance of his comments when he said he wasn’t editorializing about wisdom of building a mosque so close to Ground Zero, but that was he just acknowledging that Muslims had the right to do so. This is a point the President and the American people agree on. However, the president’s tone gave the American people the distinct impression that he supported the idea of a mosque being built at Ground Zero, which puts him at odds with the vast majority of the American people, once again.

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