Speaking on today's Brian Lehrer Show, former Bush and Reagan adviser Ken Adelman called on President Bush to break his silence and come out in support of the proposed Park51 cultural center and mosque development in Lower Manhattan. Adelman said "I'm a little disappointed in President Bush, that he hasn't come out...now would be a wonderful time to reemerge on the political state and to say that after 9/11 [he] was for acceptance of Islamic leadership that was moderate and responsible in the American way, and that [he still] believes that now."
When asked by Brian if he thought this, and not other matters such as taxes or the war in Afghanistan, was the issue on which Bush should break his silence, Adelman said "I do...this is an issue on which he has been identified with in the past, a moral issue. It would be going against members of his own tribe, his own party, his own ideology. I think it’s especially important at times to show that kind of political courage."
Expand this post to read the full transcript and hear audio of the exchange.
Full Transcript of exchange between Kenneth Adelman and Brian Lehrer
BRIAN LEHRER: Do you have a position yourself on the lower Manhattan controversy?
KEN ADELMAN: Yes, [...] I really think that the United States should stick with its values of tolerance and understanding and support for moderate Islamic leaders. And I'm a little disappointed in President Bush, while we're talking about him, that he hasn't come out. And I think now would be a wonderful time to reemerge on the political stage and to say that "After 9/11 I was for acceptance of Islamic leadership that was moderate and was responsible and in the American way, and I believe that now." [...] and I would want him to do that, and Vice President Cheney to do that, and I haven't even heard from Condi Rice, former Secretary of State, to come out and say that. I think that my position is the same as Mayor Bloomberg, and I think it's a responsible position.
BRIAN LEHRER: So out of all the big issues facing the country, what to do in Afghanistan, whether to let the Bush tax cuts expire - so many things on which President Bush was intimately involved with - you think this is the issue on which he should come out publicly and break his silence on current policy debates since leaving the presidency?
KEN ADELMAN: Yes, I do, and I do that for two reasons, Brian. Number one is, it is an issue on which he has been identified with in the past, a moral issue. And number two, it would be going against members of his own tribe, his own party, his own ideology. I think it’s especially important at times to show that kind of political courage. On tax cuts, on most of the issues that you mentioned before, he’s riding the herd of Republican conservatives, and so am I, to tell the truth. So that’s nothing very notable, nor nothing very important, nor nothing that contributes much. But when you see that your ideological brethren are going a way that you think is just fundamentally wrong, I think that’s the time to speak up. We need a profile in courage, and now is the time for him to do that.