Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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More On Greg Sargent

The motto of the Washington Post's Plum Line blogger appears to be, "When you're in a hole, dig faster."  He renews his effort today to send the Cordoba House debate in the direction he demands.  One of his mule-headed commentators responds:

Mr. Sargent: You keep drawing lines in the sand. First, you disparaged mosque opponents who made a distinction between recognizing the right to place Cordoba House on Park Place and endorsing the wisdom of their doing so. When President Obama availed himself of the same distinction, you dropped that argument.

Now you make a new distinction. It is fine, you say magnanimously, "for Republicans to argue the case against the center on the merits," since "the same First Amendment that protects the right of the group to build the center also protects the right of conservatives to make a case against it." However, "it's another thing entirely if Republicans adopt criticism of Obama's speech as part of a concerted electoral strategy."

How is the latter entirely different from the former? Opposing Cordoba House is legitimate but opposing it in a politically coordinated, systematic fashion is illegitimate? The same First Amendment that protects the freedoms of religion and speech also protects the freedom of association. If Republicans have your permission to say that the mosque location is a bad idea, why can't they say so to anyone, including campaign consultants, in any manner, including speeches and campaign ads? And if it's something one Republican can say, why can't scores or hundreds of Republicans say the same?

And things just keep getting worse for the blogger who called Obama's pro-mosque speech on Friday "one of the finest moments" of his presidency.  (Well, it was one of the shortest, says James Taranto.)  Now Harry Reid has also discovered the distinction between the right to build Cordoba House two blocks north of Ground Zero and the wisdom of doing so - and says "the mosque should be built some place else."  Sargent's nuanced assessment is that Reid's decision is "weak and indefensible," it "leaves the President hanging after he took a big risk to do the right thing," and it "just makes the Dems look weak, unorganized, cowardly, and unwilling to take a stand for principles they plainly believe in."  Apart from that, Sargent thinks it was a pretty deft move.

When the "second most powerful Democrat in the country," in Sargent's words, isn't enough of a Democratic team player, you do understand a little better why the Journolist echo chamber was so harmful.  Get a group of like-minded writers, many of them young, barely employed and aspiring, and have the most strident act as orthodoxy cops, and you wind up as tone-deaf, shrill and unpersuasive as Greg Sargent.

Discussions - 1 Comment

That "principles they plainly believe in" is an especially nice touch!

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