Never mind the personal feelings of people, which they're entitled to have, over the notion of a mosque being built in close proximity to Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. Those sensitivities have nothing to do with what's really going on. It's really all about President Barack Obama and his political opponents according to New York Times columnist Frank Rich.
On MSNBC's Aug. 26 broadcast of "The Rachel Maddow Show," host Rachel Maddow admitted she was befuddle that anti-Islam sentiment has seemingly peaked in the past few weeks and wondered why it has suddenly been brought to boil, with the mosque in question at the forefront.
"For all the bad decisions made post-9/11, we really didn't see a national, like, open partisan two-minutes hate toward Muslims the way we are seeing now about this mosque debate," Maddow said. "Why is it happening now?"
This could be one of the rare moments Rich actually had something positive to say about former President George W. Bush. According to Rich, you didn't see a hostile response toward Islam in America because Bush managed to tread lightly around the issue.
"I think it's happening now because of Obama," Rich said. "I mean, go back to right after 9/11. Bush for whatever reason did the right thing. Very quickly he went to an Islamic center in Washington. He said Islam is a religion of peace, we're not out to get Islam."
So if this is an occasion where the American left isn't pointing fingers at Bush - where should they be pointed? Another go-to target loathed by liberals - the Fox News Channel. According to Rich, this was a conspiracy which FNC was in cahoots with the "right-wing" to make Obama out not only to be a Muslim, but also a "closet terrorist."
"Why is it starting up now?" Rich continued. "Well, I think it fits into, if I may say so, the Fox/right-wing strategy of trying to portray Obama as a closest terrorist basically, and a practitioner of Islam. So it has a synergy in a campaign year and this whole thing has been ginned up and it's depressing. It's undermining the war. It's - it's doing nothing but spreading bad feeling."
The debate over Obama's religion and what certain segments of society think about the President's faith has been a fascination of the mainstream media in recent weeks. Several polls have cast a large amount of attention to the subject, which has begged the question - if it's silly to debate Obama's faith, why have the media dedicated so much attention to the topic?