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How Obama's Ground Zero Mosque Musings Are Playing

9:58 AM, Aug 16, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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On Friday night it seemed very clear that President Obama gave moral support to the Ground Zero mosque builders, but on Saturday he appeared to backtrack, saying: "I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding." (Then White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton weighed in Saturday night to walk back the walkback: "Just to be clear, the President is not backing off in any way from the comments he made last night.")

Obama's waffling is being criticized across the political spectrum. In the words of left-wing blogger Glenn Greenwald, Obama's Saturday clarification "diminished his remarks from a courageous and inspiring act into a non sequitur, somewhat of an irrelevancy. After all, the 'right' of the mosque isn't really in question and didn't need a defense."

Cokie Roberts thinks Obama's walkback made the political situation worse for himself:

“The political issue will continue because even though the president’s remarks Friday night started a firestorm, I think the backtracking is even worse,” she told "This Week," adding, “What tomorrow is he going to say?” 

Jennifer Rubin notes that the Fox News Sunday panelists were similarly critical of Obama. Watch the panel here:

Byron York explains there's a method to Obama's meanderings:

Several years ago, there was a word for Obama's rhetorical technique: Clintonian. Like the former president, Obama spoke words he knew would be understood as having a particular meaning in a particular context. He also knew that those same words, when examined closely outside that context, might also be interpreted as having a different meaning. In that sense, the mosque affair is a good lesson for both supporters and opponents of the president. From now on, with Obama, as it was with Clinton, the rule is: Don't listen to the speech. Read the words very carefully.

Meanwhile, Hamas throws its support behind the Ground Zero mosque.

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