Monday, August 30, 2010
Is Obama a Muslim ?
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Since you weighed into the Islamic Center near Ground Zero controversy, it – it’s gotten larger. It’s been nationalized, the debate. Will you revisit that topic?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, look, I think my statement at the IFTAR dinner in the White House was very clear. And that is – is that if you can build a church on that site. If you can build a synagogue on that site or a Hindu Temple on that site, then we can’t treat people of the Islamic faith differently, who are Americans, who are American citizens. That is central to who we are. That is a core value of our Constitution. And my job as President is to make sure in part that we’re upholding our Constitution.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Respectfully, the next day in Florida, you seemed to walk that back. So -
PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, I – actually, let – let me be clear, Brian. I didn’t walk it back at all. The – what I said was I was not endorsing any particular project. I was endorsing our Constitution. And what is right. Now, the media, I think – anticipating that this was going to be be a firestorm politically – seemed to think that somehow there was inconsistency and there wasn’t. And I was very specific to my team and will be very specific to you now. That the core value and principle that every American is treated the same. That doesn’t change.
I mean, think about it – I – at this IFTAR dinner I had – Muslim Americans who had been in uniform fighting in Iraq. Some of whom have served over 20 years. How – how can you say to them that somehow their religious faith is less worthy of respect under our Constitution and our system of government? You know, that’s – that’s something that I feel very strongly about. I respect the feelings on the other side. And I would defend their right to express them just as fiercely.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Mr. President, you’re an American born Christian.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Uh-huh.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: And yet, increasing and now significant numbers of Americans in polls, upwards of a fifth of respondents are claiming you are neither. A fifth of the people, just about, believe you’re a Muslim.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Keep in mind, those two things – American born and Muslim – are not the same. So – but I understand your point.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Either or the latter, and the most recent number is the latter. This has to be troubling to you. This is, of course, all new territory for an American President.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, look, the – the facts are the facts, right? So, we went through some of this during the campaign. You know, there is a mechanism, a network of misinformation, that in a new media era can get churned out there constantly. We dealt with this when I was first running for the U.S. Senate. We dealt with it when we were first running for the Presidency. There were those who said I couldn’t win as U.S. Senator because I had a funny name. And people would be too unfamiliar with it. And yet, we ended up winning that Senate seat in Illinois because I trusted in the American people’s capacity to get beyond all this nonsense and focus on is this somebody who cares about me and cares about my family and has a vision for the future? And so, I will always put my money on the American people. And I’m not going to be worrying too much about whatever rumors are floating on – out there. If I spend all my time chasing after that then I wouldn’t get much done.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Even a number as sizeable as this – what does it say to you? Does it say anything about your communications or the effectiveness of your opponents to -
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, look, Brian, I – I would say that I can’t spend all my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead. (LAUGHS) It – it is what – the facts are the facts. And so, it’s not something that I can I think spend all my time worrying about. And I don’t think the American people want me to spend all my time worrying about it.
He does NOT answer the question. What is it he is embarrassed, afraid or unsure of? do we really want a president who is unsure where his convictions lie, or where he should and shouldn't state them?