Skip to comments.Was GOP Outreach to Muslims the Politics of Pandering?
Posted on 09/29/2003 5:43:26 PM PDT by veronica
Every once in a while a highly visible political gambit comes completely a cropper. Particularly when it involves - to say nothing of embarrasses - the president of the United States, it generally gets considerable public notice. Often the proverbial head rolls. At the very least, a course correction usually is quickly effected.
What are we to make, then, of the astonishing silence, the utter lack of accountability and the absence of any apparent shift in electoral strategy that has accompanied the meltdown of one of the Bush political team's major initiatives. I refer to its effort to recruit Muslim- and Arab-American voters (and donors) by pandering to foreign-funded organizations led by radical leftists and even pro-"Islamists," despite the fact that most members of those communities neither are radical nor subscribe to the virulently intolerant, and often violently anti-American, tenets of those who promote Islamism.
This courting formally got under way in 2000 when senior advisers to then-governor George W. Bush invited to Austin representatives of highly problematic groups such as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the American Muslim Council (AMC) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). On the presidential campaign trail that year, Bush met with and received support from an Islamist activist named Sami al-Arian and embraced al-Arian's personal pet project: the prohibition of the use of "secret evidence" by federal law enforcement.
In an American Spectator article published shortly after the 2000 election, Grover Norquist - who founded the Islamic Institute in the late 1990s to help Bush and GOP efforts to reach out to Muslim-Americans - credited this community with being the decisive voting bloc that delivered Florida for the president.
After Bush gained the White House, ISNA, AMC, CAIR and like-minded groups and individuals such as al-Arian were invited to the Executive Mansion for meetings with, among others, political guru Karl Rove. In fact, on Sept. 11, 2001, a number of them were scheduled to hold a meeting in the presidential complex for the purpose of cashing in on the promised end to the use of secret evidence, one of law enforcement's few and most important pre-PATRIOT Act tools for protecting classified information while prosecuting suspected terrorists.
Incredible as it may seem in the wake of the attacks that day, organizations with long records of support for radical Islam and sympathy for those who murder Americans and others in its name were afforded increased access to high-level, Bush administration officials and myriad federal agencies. Al-Arian's access only ended when he was indicted and held without bail on some 40 counts, including charges that he ran Palestinian Islamic Jihad for 10 years from his office at the University of South Florida. CAIR's access has continued, even though three of its officials have been arrested in recent months on terrorism-related charges.
Such "outreach" to Muslims routinely was justified by a legitimate, even laudable, desire on Bush's part to demonstrate that the war on terror was not a war on Islam. But for some around the president it had a more crass political impetus: pandering for votes in 2002 and 2004.
Unfortunately, the pro-Islamists and their friends had a very different agenda. They sought to use the access thus afforded to White House officials, Cabinet and sub-Cabinet officers and the FBI to undermine counterterrorist techniques and initiatives on the grounds that they were racially or ethnically motivated. Worse yet, they publicly exploited meetings with the president and his subordinates to shore up their dubious and highly undesirable claim to leadership both within and on behalf of their community.
Just how undesirable this phenomenon is became clear recently during an important hearing held by Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security. After establishing Saudi funding as a source of revenue for and influence over organizations such as CAIR, witnesses and senators on both sides of the aisle condemned CAIR for its "extreme" agenda and its support for terrorist organizations such as Hamas.
Interestingly, CAIR declined an invitation to testify, citing a conflict with an "interfaith" remembrance of 9/11 it was cosponsoring that evening - one of the few such convocations held around the country that week to have, as a principal focus, bitter denunciations of the U.S. government for its war on terror.
To be sure, Republicans are not the only ones guilty of the politics of pander. Notably, Democrats such as presidential candidate Howard Dean are now bidding for the sympathies of Bush's newly declared Muslim-American foes. For that matter, the pandering to this community is not the only one that has borne the Bush team bitter fruit; after the president was induced to impose tariffs on imported steel, the steelworkers union chose to endorse Dick Gephardt for president.
It clearly is time for Bush to reach out to moderate Muslims, not the radicals and Islamists his team has been romancing; to empower the former and to diminish, for both compelling strategic and political reasons, the influence of the latter. If any pandering is to be done from here on, let it be lavished on those - Muslim and non-Muslim alike - who are committed to strengthening this country against its enemies instead of those who sympathize with them.
Well let's not be so polite about it...In the real world, it's called prostitution...
No. It was an act of stupidity.
Right. After Bush lost as 15% lead over Owlgore.
In any given nation, Moderate Islam is the majority until they approach or pass 50% of the population, then its "Bring on the Sharia! Death to Infidels! Death to [insert ethnic or religious group in country here]".