Obama's Missed Opportunity

My new column for the Financial Times argues that Obama's bungled statements on the New York mosque were a missed opportunity. Here was a chance for the president to do what we know he can, and what at least in part he was elected for: unify the country and raise its sights.

When race came to the fore in his presidential campaign, in the form of the Jeremiah Wright scandal, he responded brilliantly, with a fine unifying speech that challenged the country to be calm, sober and enlightened. The mosque debate was a moment for a speech of that kind.

Whether or not he made the case for the project to go ahead - as, on balance, I think he should - he could have reminded the country of its common purposes, he could have sought to unify, he could have insisted on tolerance and understanding on both sides. That was the Barack Obama the country elected. Where did he go?


Presented by

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

More in Politics

Just In