I guess I'm among the "professional left" —- to exaggerate my vocation — who's had reason to grump about President Obama. Not today. He didn't have to wander into the issue about the Islamic complex proposed near (not at) Ground Zero in New York. The Republicans sniff a winner here and nationwide reactions seem to bear them out. Nonetheless, the president decided to engage forcefully.
There is an irony when the party that likes to prattle about strict constructionist judges and the sanctity of certain parts of the Constitution (or at least the sanctity of THEIR interpretation of the Constitution) is intent on trampling a core constitutional reason for the country's existence.
"Let me be clear: as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," Obama said at a White House iftar, the traditional breaking of the daily Ramadan fast.
"That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances," he continued. "This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable."
I'd add that extremists who pervert religion to justify unspeakable actions come in more flavors than Muslim.
Here's a good example of Republican reverence for the First Amendment. Twitter response to Obama's speech from Clint Reed, former director of the Arkansas Republican Party and now a campaign consultant:
Good gets better for GOP. RT @AP_Mobile: Obama backs mosque near ground zero.