Mosque is pledge of allegiance issue of 2010: bad judgment on values, economy.
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Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, riding a double-digit lead over then Vice President George H.W. Bush as the summer began, was found to have vetoed a bill that would require the state’s teachers to lead their students in the Pledge of Allegiance. Tellingly, Democrats thought it no big deal. Competence, Dukakis insisted, was the real issue. A New York Times columnist dismissed the Pledge issue as one of “imbecility.”
The columnist (Russell Baker) wasn’t simply wrong. He was clueless as to the impact on ordinary outside-Manhattan voters. The Pledge veto became an emblem of Hanoi Jane-style liberal elitism circa 1988, and Bush began touring flag-making companies to emphasize the point. “What is it about the Pledge of Allegiance that upsets him so much?” Bush demanded of Dukakis at a campaign rally with outgoing President Ronald Reagan. The crowd roared .The rally was, by the way, not in Red State Alabama. It was in Bluing California. Los Angeles. And Bush — not the liberal Dukakis — would carry the state.
Why is this ancient political history important to understand?
The Ground Zero Mosque has now become the values issue of the 2010 campaign. The party of Hanoi Jane has been updated — but, importantly, not replaced — with the party of (as Rush Limbaugh chortles) Imam Obama.
And there’s more to this than just the values issue of the Mosque. Much more.
What made the image of Hanoi Jane or the blindfolded American hostages in Iran or the Dukakis veto of the Pledge of Allegiance so powerful with voters was not simply the “values issues” each came to personify.
Each was tied directly to the economy and the economic issues of the day.
Why? Because each image communicated to voters bad judgment.
When Dukakis whined during a 1988 debate that Bush was questioning his patriotism, Bush swung back instantly, saying that it wasn’t his opponent’s patriotism he was calling into question but his judgment. And judgment extended to far more than the issue of the Pledge of Allegiance. Judgment went to the very heart of the issue Americans care most about all of the time: the economy. Their jobs. Their economic security.
In 1972 Nixon tied McGovern’s bad judgment to the Democrat’s much ridiculed plan to give a “rebate” of $1,000 to every American, the idea quickly being targeted as the “thousand-dollar giveaway.” Reagan, proposing the tax and budget cuts that became the signature of 1980s economic prosperity, ridiculed Carter’s economic views as “Carternomics.” A recession, Reagan would joke with his cheering 1980 audiences, was when “your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job. And a recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.” In 1984, Reagan lampooned Walter Mondale’s promise to raise taxes as the return of Carternomics and more bad judgment. In between hammering Dukakis on the Pledge — and the furlough of convicted murderer Willie Horton, another emblem — the 1988 Bush campaign tied Dukakis’s judgment and his liberal economic program to Carter with commercials that showed long unemployment lines as the song “I Remember You” was crooned in the background. In 2004 the image of a young John Kerry testifying against his comrades from Vietnam that they “cut off ears” of the enemy, questions of whether he had tossed his war medals away at a protest, and more morphed into the so-called “Swift Boat” issue — which like all its emblematic predecessors beginning with Hanoi Jane — became the bad judgment issue that sank Kerry’s presidential campaign.
This is not a presidential year — but the values issue, a seeming no-show at first — has now jumped to center stage with the Ground Zero Mosque. A Time magazine poll not only shows 61% of Americans — not just New Yorkers — opposing the Mosque, a full 70% have cited the construction as “insult to the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center.” Which is to say, an issue not of religious freedom as its liberal proponents claim but — yes — bad judgment.
This gives opponents ample room to make the case that Mosque supporters are showing not just bad judgment in terms of the feelings of 9/11 families. But bad judgment in terms of national security. Bad judgment in terms of financing connections between the Mosque and the terrorists of Hamas and Iran.
And yes, most spectacularly, bad judgment as expressed by the support of the President for the Mosque as delivered at a White House Ramadan dinner. Bad judgment as expressed in his spectacularly unsuccessful efforts to “reach out” to radical Islamicists with the likes of video greetings to Iran, a timid response to freedom marchers in Tehran, his inability or unwillingness to do one effective thing about the building of an Iranian nuclear bomb, his insulting behavior towards Israel’s prime minister. And so on, and on. To the point that the Time poll also says a full one-third of Americans polled believe Muslims should be barred from the presidency — with an astonishing 24% refusing to answer the question of whether they think President Obama himself is Muslim, or confessing they were unsure.
Most importantly for Republicans, all of this bad judgment over the Mosque issue easily translates into a connection with the bad judgment that has sent the American economy into a tailspin. Near double-digit unemployment and potentially nation-crippling national debt — not to mention mess that is ObamaCare — are nothing but poster children for bad economic judgment.
Don’t think for a moment that the new emblem of this year’s campaign — the Ground Zero Mosque and Obama’s support for it — will be used as anything other than an illustration of colossal bad judgment across the board. Bad judgment that will have a considerable negative impact on an election that was already sending Democrats reaching for the political smelling salts. Races for House, Senate and gubernatorial seats from New York to Nevada are going to be affected by this — as Harry Reid’s rush to separate from the Obama stance on the Mosque issue so vividly demonstrates.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online