Former Vermont governor, Democratic presidential contender, and hero of the left Howard Dean has shocked many of his supporters by coming out against the increasingly controversial Cordoba House, an Islamic community center planned for lower Manhattan. Dean called the center's location two blocks from the former World Trade Center site "a real affront to people who lost their lives" and, calling for "a compromise," said that it should be built elsewhere. Liberal pundits, who have fought tooth and nail for the religious freedom of the center and its founders, are none too happy with Dean. Here's what they have to say. (In a sign of how seriously Dean is taking this backlash, he's already recorded separate interviews with Glenn Greenwald and Keith Olbermann, both to be aired later.)
I have respected and appreciated Howard Dean for eight years but he is completely wrong and uninformed about the Park51
- 'Disappointing' and 'Repellent' Salon's Glenn Greenwald sighs, "Certain things are disappointing and surprising even for the most hardened cynics. Hearing Howard Dean -- the former liberal standard-bearer -- join Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin by saying the following is definitely one of them. ... Making this more repellent is that he doesn't even have the 'I-want-to-get-re-elected' excuse. ... It's episodes like this which breed increasing levels of pervasive disgust and even indifference about electoral outcomes."
- 'Trying To Split The Baby' Daily Kos's Jed Lewinson gets Biblical. "He's trying to split the baby by saying that his problem isn't with a mosque in particular, it's that he doesn't like the idea of putting any one religious institution at Ground Zero. ... That line of reasoning fails miserably, however, when you consider that there already is a mosque in the same area and that there are at least three churches even closer to Ground Zero than the proposed Islamic community center and mosque, St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, Trinity Church, and St. Paul's Chapel. Unless Dean is arguing that they have to move as well, what he's saying just doesn't make sense and represents a peculiar and unwarranted contribution to the debate."
- Where Have the 'Principled' Dems Gone? FireDogLake's Scarecrow fumes, "Apparently there are no principled grownups left among the leaders of the Democratic Party. ... The preferred location, I gather, would be somewhere that didn't function as a litmus test for whether a politician has a genuinely principled adherence to the US Constitution. After all, it's awkward when our leaders must prove they actually understand why the Founders found religious intolerance so odious and dangerous to the concept of a free people that it was the first behavior they explicitly banned from American government. How sad that we've lost that wisdom."
- Furthering the 'Nontroversy' Balloon Juice's Mistermix writes, "what a great way to encourage stupid, cable-driven nontroversies. Instead of just keeping his ... mouth shut, Dean treats this whole ginned-up affair like some kind of grassroots, serious protest instead of a lie calculated to inflame. You can't have 'genuine listening' when the whole conversation starts with [nonsense]: It isn't just a mosque, you can't see ground zero from it, and it's nothing new in that neighborhood. Start there, and you have nothing that needs to be 'heard respectfully'."
- Makes No Sense for Dean The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen asks, "What was Dean thinking?" Adding that he did not even believe the reports at first, Benen writes, "I have no idea how Dean ended up with this position. It's just bizarre."