Debate surrounding the proposed Ground Zero mosque reached a fever-pitch on Wednesday as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg stepped to the podium to soothe tension. But opposition to the Cordoba house, headed by a very vocal Newt Gingrich, doesn't appear to be easing anytime soon. In fact, the swirl of incendiary opinions on the post-9/11 future of lower Manhattan has made some liberal bloggers nostalgic for a surprising figure: ex-President Bush.

It's true, some liberal pundits are starting to miss him:

  • Yes, I Miss George Bush writes Paul Waldman at The American Prospect, who appears amazed that he could express such sentiments. "Goodness knows, I figured I'd be the last person to be throwing compliments at W. But as this letter to Talking Points Memo reminds us, Bush actually went out of his way to repeat that America was not at war with Islam as a whole, only with certain radical elements engaged in terrorism."
  • For Once, I Really Do Miss Him agrees blogger Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, before quickly clarifying his stance: "The damage he did to the American cause in the Muslim world is incalculable, but at least he never countenanced this kind of lunatic bigotry. Are there any Republican leaders left today who can say the same? Anyone willing to just quietly and frankly defend traditional American notions of religious freedom and traditional American notions of tolerance and decency?"
  • Bush Was a Grown Up Republican and there aren't any of them around right now, notes The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen. "For all of Bush's many, many faults, he was generally quite responsible when it came to these issues. Even when his base embraced the ugliest bigotry and demagoguery, the former president resisted such talk, took the high ground, and showed genuine respect for diversity and religious freedom. Bush could have very easily slipped into the same discriminatory swamp, and to his credit, he chose not to."
  • George Bush Isn't Dead quips Matthew Yglesias at ThinkProgress, "He’s alive and well. If he wanted to stand alongside Mayor Bloomberg and do a press conference, I’m sure people would pay attention. Perhaps he’s observing a kind of ex-presidential courtesy and staying out of things."