Feisal Abdul Rauf of Cordoba House delivered for the Bush Administration when it needed prominent Muslims to speak for America after 9/11. Now they’ve left him hanging out to dry.

So it turns out that Feisal Abdul Rauf of Cordoba House went on at least two “public diplomacy” missions for the Bush State Department. That makes the wingnuts who are portraying him as a crypto-terrorist a bunch of liars, but that’s hardly news. What ought to be news is that George W. Bush, Condoleeza Rice, and Karen Hughes can’t be bothered to defend the guy they used, now that their political buddies have decided that he’s the Second Coming of Osama bin Laden.

Practical politics, much as academics and pundits despise it, has its own ethical code. And the first rule of that code is that, when people do stuff for you, you owe them. I don’t know how much danger Rauf put himself in by standing with America against its enemies, but on his current State Department mission he has cause to reflect not only on the quality of American tolerance but on the morals of some of its former leaders.

Rice in particular surely knows that the invented controversy is extremely bad for our foreign relations. And yet she has obviously calculated that saying the right thing would damage her influence with what she seems to believe is now the permanently dominant Republican faction.

I keep saying it only because it keeps being true: the contemporary GOP is simply not a plausible alternative governing party. There is simply no adult supervision available at that particular jamboree.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

25 thoughts on “Ingrates”

  1. What a joke. Look, if you hadn't insisted we elect a man to the presidency who is obviously not up to the job, perhaps we'd have a president who could provide leadership on this issue. As it is, you look to the former president–a man you hate (hatred of conservative Americans being the one thing liberal Americans are good at)–to provide leadership. Rauf is on a State Department mission now; why can't the president tell us whether Cordoba House should be built where proposed? Doesn't Obama owe him that? Where's Secretary Clinton? I suppose being owed something by Obama is just tough luck, because the guy just can't deliver. And now he doesn't even look to be trying. Maybe Obama'll take Rauf golfing instead, or invite him to shoot hoops.

  2. Typical conservative tactic: change the subject and refuse to engage the issues raised.

  3. Thomas,

    Who is this posited 'president who could provide leadership on this issue'??? McCain? I rather doubt it. McCain sold his soul to the social conservatives in exchange for a loser of a campaign for the Presidency.

    In his current state, McCain couldn't lead a Cub Scout Den out of a Kansas shelter belt wood.

  4. Rauf is on a State Department mission now; why can’t the president tell us whether Cordoba House should be built where proposed? Doesn’t Obama owe him that? Where’s Secretary Clinton?

    Do you also want Obama sharing his views on zoning in the Murfreesboro, TN antimuslim silliness? How about a condo going up in Texas? I thought Republicans liked local rule. (Of course, as we saw in Florida in 2000 and 2005, they only like that when the thumb in on the scale in their direction.)

    Now, why not talk about what Mark was talking about: Namely, that Republicans have a mafia-like clamp on their tribe: do not speak out of turn in public. At this point the average pol in the party won't commit to a flavor of toothpaste without the day's talking points. Who thinks they're adult enough to lead on anything?

  5. Surely, nobody can stop the McCain 'Maverick' from speaking out on this issue, and proving his leadership.

  6. I can't see why people wouldn't want to be more like us when we discriminate against them. When will people see that the means is almost always as important as the end? People respect you for your actions, not for what you tell them is in their own best interest. And for the record, America assimilated immigrants well in the past because for most immigrants, enduring mild oppression (yes, remember those Chinese, Irish, Italians, Mexicans, …) here was superior to enjoying abject poverty and major political oppression at home. Let's not get too excited about ourselves.


    Hasn't the POTUS already supported it being built? Yes, this is supporting it being built. He is supporting the ability/right for it to be built where the people who fund it wish it to be built. He avoided saying "Cordoba House should be built there" because it isn't any of his business who builds what where, any more than his opinion should matter on where a church should be built or a synagogue or a 7/11. As the President, supporting people means ensuring their rights and letting them decide.

  8. Thomas, I'm actually more interested in hearing you point of view on whether the center should be built. Because as far as I know the best reason anyone has come up with is that it "might offend victim's families". But that's assuming that any of the victim's families were bigots who can't tell the difference between a major world religion and some of its crazy adherents. And if so, why should we care about offending their misguided sensibilities?

  9. grog, I think your complaint is with Mark, not me. I mean, if it's silly for the current president to feel obligated to offer his opinion–despite the fact that he offers us his opinion about everything, all the time, and has publicly and repeatedly addressed this issue–then surely it would be ridiculous to think that people who aren't commenting publicly on anything at all would publicly comment on this? Right?

    Mobius, yeah, perhaps McCain could show "enormous courage" by saying that they have the right to build this, but that he doesn't want to address the merits. Cowardice like that wins plaudits, right?

    Eli, can I take the Obama line? This is America, and these people have rights, and all that crap, and I'm sure you're proud to be an American and impressed by my brass balls now that I've dodged the question, right?

  10. Thomas: Yes you are ducking Mark's point. It is not the current POTUS' party attacking Rauf and the enterprise he is involved in. It is the former POTUS' party. Obama comming out strongly on this issue would only add fuel to this non-controversy's fire as this is only about politics. It is a political red herring.

    The real point here is that long ago the GOP passed the point of having any sense of shame or moral resposibility and George W Bush is the perfect representative of the Former Party of Lincoln. No one ever expects him or his associates to do the right thing but it needs to be pointed out for just that reason.

    p.s. I know the GOP wants to pretend they bear no responsibility for "W" but almost a decade of blind and mindless support for the half-witted sociopath belies that "George WHO?" pose. It was a GOP picked SCOTUS that foisted him on us. It was a GOP lead legislative branch that shoved through his every wish. It was GOP controlled voting machines that re-elected him. It was the policies of the GOP led by the Bush Administration that crashed America's and the world's economy, allowed 9/11, started and bungled two unnecessary wars, squandered America's treasure and honor,…it just goes on and on!

    So the least the little S*** can do is try to follow up on the one honorable thing he did: Try to clarify that Ossama binLaden and his band of thuggs do not represent Isalam and all muslims shouldn't be painted with that broad brush. But of course NO ONE EXPECTS GEORGE W BUSH TO DO THE HONORABLE THING. That's why it is so easy to side step that idea because we all know it is just silly.

  11. Fred, if you were capable of following the news, which I doubt you are, because you seem like another typical ignorant lib to me, you might notice that it isn't just Republicans attacking this proposal. I mean, Harry Reid's a Democrat still, right? (If you don't know who Harry Reid is, perhaps you can ask someone to google his name for you.)

    Remember every time someone complains about the idiot birthers, there are people like "GOP controlled voting machines" Fred on the other side, and no one gets excited about them.

  12. Thomas –

    Why do you even bother? Is this like a performance art kind of thing? Or do you just have a compulsion to display your stupidity?

  13. Thomas, you're not being responsive to the people who critiqued your first comment. The issue at hand is not whether Bush, Rice and Hughes should endorse the "Ground Zero Mosque," it's whether they should sit idly by while the opinion leaders of their party slander a man they employed.

  14. Aardvark, yes, I see. So, you're calling on Bush, Hughes and Rice to demonstrate their courage–their brass balls–and say, well, I'm not going to comment on this wisdom of Rauf's views, but he has every right to his religious views under our First Amendment. That'll do the trick, right?

  15. Don’t anyone look now, but Politico is reporting that the Cordoba Initiative lacks some crucial essentials for real estate development: no blueprint, architect, or engineer. In addition, they may not have enough funds for a down payment on the property. If the basics have not been done, the whole project could fizzle, not from political pressure or bigotry, but just old fashioned incompetence.

    I have not seen any verification of Politico’s report. But it would be disturbing if all the “news” organizations that have been all over this story for weeks lack the resources to send out a reporter for some basic shoe leather investigation of necessary facts.

  16. Just a decade ago, the Republican-controlled House and Senate, concerned that local zoning laws were interfering with the ability of churches to build whatever facilities they wanted on land they owned, passed the "Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act" –….

    This law says: No government shall impose or implement a land use regulation in a manner that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution, unless the government can demonstrate that imposition of the burden on that person, assembly or institution

    1. is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and

    2. is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest

    I don't see anything that excludes Islam. Many of the same politicians screaming about Cordoba House were part of the unanimous consent to this measure in both houses of Congress.

  17. Everyone here is just failing to see Thomas's inarguable point. It's very simple: If George has Feisal stick up for him, then George should stick up for Feisal – unless Obama doesn't stick up for Feisal, in which case George doesn't owe Feisal a damn thing. See?

  18. Michael, closer than the others, but that's grading on an easy curve. How about this: George and Barry have Rauf stick up for them. Neither George nor Barry stick up for Rauf. Our host says that Barry's refusal to stick up for Rauf is courageous, and says that George's refusal to stick up for Rauf makes George an ingrate. It shouldn't be difficult to see the problem, and to laugh at our host for his issues.

  19. There's not sticking up, and there's not sticking up. Here's a version I think avoids any material elisions:

    George has Feisal stick up for him. Twice. George's friends are fine with this.

    Barry plans to have Feisal stick up for him. George's friends criticize Barry for this. George says nothing.

    George's friends say Feisal is a radical Islamist. Barry says Feisal's no radical Islamist (whatever he might think of Feisal's architectural endeavors). George says nothing.

    Conclusion: Barry isn't sticking up for Feisal's architectural endeavors; George isn't sticking up for Feisal, period.

  20. Michael, you might, in your version, note that "George says nothing" is not out of the ordinary. Months go by without a public statement from George. Meanwhile, Barry talks to us all the time, never stops. And, despite what you say, he has not said that "Feisal's no radical Islamist." So, corrected, even your version makes it clear just how little Barry has done. And yet you'll still complain about someone else.

  21. "Months go by without a public statement from George."

    But months usually go by without George's being asked for a comment.

    "[Barry] has not said that 'Feisal’s no radical Islamist.'"

    Um, the article being discussed in this thread prominently quotes a spokesman for Barry's State Department as follows: "[Feisal's] work on tolerance and religious diversity is well-known and he brings a moderate perspective."

    Last word's yours, if you want it.

  22. Michael, according to the article, the State Department spokesman says that the Bush administration concluded the same thing. So, by your logic, we have a statement from Bush. That was easy.

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