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The Moral Cowardice of Harry Reid

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So Harry Reid has contradicted President Obama and capitulated to the mob denouncing the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero, has he? Oh, Reid says, via his spokesman Jim Manley, that he respects religious rights. Then came the "but." But it should be built "someplace else." Like in Nevada, Senator Reid? Thought not.

Reid's cringing performance, too cowardly even to make the statement personally, leaving it instead to a flack, is particularly shameful coming hard on the heels of Newt Gingrich's likening of building a mosque to the Holocaust. But his actions do provide a kind of crystallization of what's gone wrong with the Democratic party, or, to put it more precisely, has been wrong with it for decades. Republicans seize upon an issue, whip up a firestorm of indignation, and, rather than seek to douse it, or, heaven forbid, turn it around, Democrats, more often than not, cower abjectly. This has pretty much been the Obama strategy over the past year, as the GOP has, by and large, set the terms of debate.

No, the Saudis, as Gingrich observed, wouldn't allow the construction of a mosque near Mecca. That's why America isn't Saudi Arabia. We don't prevent women from driving. We don't have religious squads roaming shopping malls, trying to enforce a medieval version of morals. And so on.

Why can't Obama and Reid make these obvious points? Obama himself issued a clarification of his views after tepidly standing up for religious freedom. Instead of quaking before America's right, Obama and Reid should be going on the offensive, affirming the nation's proudest traditions. The mosque issue, however, is further unmasking the leadership of the Democratic party.

George W. Bush never demonized Muslims living in America. He visited a mosque shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Gingrich and his confreres, by contrast, are engaging in reckless analogies to Nazi Germany. They may well stir up violence against mosques and Muslims. The GOP, it must be said, is lurching out of control.

But the leadership of the Democratic party doesn't want to say so. Instead, it is cowering in abject fear. If the Democrats lose the midterm elections, it won't be because they were too bold, but because they never even began to fight in the first place.