Why Rauf? P.J. Crowley explains

Only yesterday Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs disparaged lefties who compare Obama with George Bush. “I hear these people saying [Obama]’s like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,” Gibbs said to the Hill. “I mean, it’s crazy.”
For what it’s worth, I agree with Gibbs, particularly if you take the assertions separately. Obama is not anything like George Bush. Obama’s left-wing supporters may as well be on drugs. And they are crazy as hell.
Gibb’ss comments provide the perfect context for State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley’s explanation of the State Department’s use of Ground Zero mosque front man Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf as an American spokesman in the Middle East. Crowley cleared it all up with Bill Emmer on Fox News today:

BILL HEMMER: Why this guy?
PJ CROWLEY: Well, he’s a moderate Islamic cleric. We want to show people around the world, particularly in Muslim majority countries, the role that religion plays here. He was actually selected for the program under the Bush Administration, we have continued his involvement in the program and his involvement in our program, here at the state department is not related to the issue of where the mosque will be placed in New York.
HEMMER: You say he’s a moderate cleric yet he refused to acknowledge Hamas as a terrorist organization and made comments that U.S. foreign policy could be considered an accessory to the attacks of 9/11. Is that moderate?
CROWLEY: We think he’s a moderate U.S. cleric and I think there are religious scholars, I have heard in media reports, where, Abe Foxman of the ADL, has vouched for his religious views and we just think it’s important to have a variety of voices, representative of the United States, and whether he has his own personal views, I don’t know. But by communicating how we have religious diversity and freedom of religion in this country that is an important message for the United States to communicate around the world.

“We think he’s a moderate U.S. cleric” does not exactly answer Hemmer’s question. Indeed, that was the question. And since when has Abe Foxman become a religious scholar? Maybe Crowley should in fact be drug tested.
Anyway, message received. Obama’s just like George Bush! “I mean, it’s crazy.”

UPDATE: I nominated Andrew McCarthy to take Rauf’s place in the State Department’s outreach mission to Muslim countries. It is therefore particularly gratifying to have Andy’s take on the “Bush did it” defense of Rauf.

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