Displays of Weakness
Isn't the implication of the president's position on the Koran burning event in Gainsville on September 11 that Americans should curb their free expression because Islam is so dangerous? Is there another religion that would be feared under such circumstances?
"You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities," said Obama, who called the protest a stunt.
I've been pretty agnostic on this until I listened to the Obama position layed out. If Islam is as much of a threat as the president, General Patraeus, and others believe, well, that's got me thinking the sooner we confront the danger the better.
"I hope he listens to those better angels and understands that this is a destructive act that he's engaging in," Obama said on ABC.
The other question is this: who is the audience for this sort of this presidential cowering? Is it domestic minorities, the voters who the Democrats are investing all of their future in (after organized labor, of course)? Or is it the Obama base - European socialists? Maybe it's the Islamic world, whose reaction he really does seem to fear.
The administration stepped up its campaign to prevent the burning, but it was unclear what could be done.
"There are discussions inside the government about the possibility of doing that. I don't know that a final decision has been reached on doing that," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Thursday. Gibbs called the burning a hateful act but shied away from calling it a hate crime, which carries legal connotations.
Free speech - a hate crime?
Meanwhile, the State Department warned overseas travelers to be careful. "The potential for further protests and demonstrations, some of which may turn violent, remains high," it said.
The dispute comes at a difficult time for the Obama administration, significantly down in polls that predict sizable GOP wins in the midterm elections. The dispute also comes at an especially sensitive time for Obama, who has repeatedly tried to repair U.S. relations with the Muslim world.
Displays of weakness on the part of the president would seem to heighten the danger over the long term.