With the exception of Rep. Jerrold Nadler, I haven’t gotten a single response from the N.Y. congressional delegation I reached out to about the president’s speech, but but I have heard from multiple Democratic sources that some have privately expressed a sense of discomfort about the topic, and to some extent, the mosque project.
“This is still like an emotional wound for a lot of people,” said one source, adding that some delegation members have said something along the lines of, “I know that there’s nothing wrong with it. … I just kind of wish it wasn’t happening (near Ground Zero).”
“There’s no way to do anything about it, but at the same time, it’s just not something” that even some elected officials are totally comfortable with, although none would admit it publicly, the source said.
If so, it’s a bracing moment for New York, among the bluest states in the land and one that prides itself on thriving multiculturalism and attempts at tolerance, and a reminder of how complicated the emotions are for many people within some level of proximity of Ground Zero about everything related to it and the attacks.
I reached out to a number of members in the 24-member Democratic delegation who are facing tough elections, and got exactly no responses. Only Rep. Jerrold Nadler, one of the most liberal members of the delegation in New York and one who’s safe this fall, put out a statement praising the president’s speech.
(Although Nadler is rather Hawkish on Israel, and his district covers not just Ground Zero itself but stretches to Boro Park, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclave, meaning the easier route for him personally would have been to avoid commenting, or to support a new location for the mosque/community center, suggesting he’s acting on conviction and not expedience).
Prior to Obama’s speech, some were getting questioned but few other than those in marginal districtsÂ faced tremendous pressure to provide an answer on the issue, since it’s realistically not something that they have any legal authority over in their current jobs.
Chuck Schumer’s office didn’t respond to e-mails. Kirsten Gillibrand’s aides didn’t give a statement, although she did apparently tell a reporter at a public event that she found the speech “thoughtful.”