At least, that's what he said in a press conference yesterday on the Cordoba House controversy:
My principles on this are two-fold. One, that we have to acknowledge, respect and give some measure of deference to the feelings of the family members who lost their loved ones there that day. But it would be wrong to so overreact to that, that we paint Islam with a brush of radical Muslim extremists that just want to kill Americans because we are Americans. But beyond that ... I am not going to get into it, because I would be guilty of candidly what I think some Republicans are guilty of, and the president is now, the president is guilty of, of playing politics with this issue, and I simply am not going to do it. [...]
Asked if he'd call upon both parties to stop, he said, "Well, that again will be playing politics with the issue. I said what I feel about it, and I don’t believe it is up to me to pontificate on other people about what they should do. I just observe what I observe." [Emphasis mine]
This is disingenuous nonsense; for weeks, anti-Muslim demagogues in the GOP have demonized the Cordoba House as a dangerous symbol of extremism. Major Republican leaders have all but accused its backers of treason, and Republican operatives are busy using the controversy as an election-year bludgeon against Democrats. By contrast, President Obama made a conscious effort to avoid politics by offering a measured and unobjectionable statement of support for religious freedom. Christie's ridiculous "he said, she said" posturing notwithstanding, it's obvious that right-wing conservatives have manufactured this controversy for the purpose of capitalizing on latent nativism and economic anxiety.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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