Why Won't Top Republicans Denounce the Hate Pastor Set to Burn Korans?
This week, Gen. David Petraeus, top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Gen. William Caldwell, the training commander in Afghanistan, warned that Dove World Church’s “ International Burn a Quran Day” on September 11 would put U.S. troops’ lives in danger and undermine NATO’s mission in Afghanistan. Despite their warnings, church pastor Terry Jones said his congregation would go ahead with the event.
Top officials in the Obama administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder have denounced Jones’ plans, but leading Republicans are refusing to comment. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann reported last night that he asked top GOPers — including President Bush, House Minority Leader John Boehner (OH), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), Sens. John McCain (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), Jeff Sessions (AL), and Susan Collins (ME), Rep. Eric Cantor (VA), Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Liz Cheney — if they would condemn Jones’ Quran burning in light of Petraeus’ remarks but none would offer any comment:
OLBERMANN: And so, today, Countdown asked several Republican politicians if they now, as they have in the past, urged Americans to listen to General Petraeus and support what he needs to win the hearts and minds of an Islamic country. … [We received] total silence today.
Olbermann is right, Republicans — including Cantor, Boehner, and McCain — have in the past demanded that lawmakers, administration officials and the American people listen to Petraeus.
But these same Republicans also recently disregarded Petraeus’ concern that “Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region.” So it seems likely they will again ignore his warnings.
Update Appearing on Good Morning America today, Boehner seemed reluctant to strongly condemn the Quran burning. When host George Stephanopoulos asked him directly, “So you’re telling [Jones] not to do it?” there was a long pause, forcing Stephanopoulos to repeat the question. Finally, Boehner replied, “Well, listen, I just think it’s not wise to do this in the face of what our country represents.” Boehner also compared Jones to the Cordoba Initiative, which is seeking to build an Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero, saying to both, “Just because you have the right to do something in America, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.”
Update TPM's Christina Bellantoni reports that Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) expressed his objection to the Quran burning. "I do not think well of the idea of burning anybody's Koran, Bible, Book of Mormon or anything else," he said. "I don't think it's a good idea."