Shoeless George Bush backslides

We noted President Bush’s visit to the Islamic Center of Washington last week here and here. President Bush’s speech had slightly discordant elements. On the one hand, it announced the appointment of an American emissary to “listen and learn from” the Organization of the Islamic Conference — a gratuitous act of national self-abasement. On the other hand, it called on Muslims to condemn Islamic radicalism.
Given that the speech took place at the Wahhabi outpost where President Bush had insisted that “Islam is peace” in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the speech struck me as one step forward, two steps back. I didn’t quite know what to make of it. In “Shoeless George Bush,” Daniel Pipes places the speech in the context of Bush’s other speeches about Islam. He arrives at the conclusion that the speech reflects a failed understanding of the enemy’s Islamist nature.
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Pipes observes that adding to the accommodationist tone of the speech is the fact that some of the president’s top female aides wore makeshift hijabs as they listened to him in the audience. Left to right in the photo above are Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Frances Townsend, White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes.
UPDATE: Dean Barnett comments here. My day job colleague Peter Swanson comments here. Peter asks: “Does it make a difference if, in addition to the hijab, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Frances Townsend is possibly wearing a cross and showing cleavage?” I’ll leave the answer to that question to commenters over at the Forum here.
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