And Thus, the Walkback Begins

From the White House Twitter feed:

Obama clarifies slightly on NY mosque comments. "Wasn't commenting on wisdom...of putting a mosque there" just "the right" to do so

As Jon of the Exurban League responds, "Obama's statement last night ticked off 70% of the country. His 'clarification' today has ticked off the other 30%."

Which may explain why Politico's Ben Smith, a self-admitted former member of the JournoList, the self-designated "non-official campaign" extension of President Obama, is surprisingly critical of the president's efforts to walk his latest gaffe back a bit:

Obama's new stance is logically consistent with his words last night, if a bit less "clarion," as Mike Bloomberg called the first remarks. And there are certainly two possible stances here: Bloomberg's, that the Cordoba project itself represents the best of America; and Obama's, that the freedom of religion is an important American value.

Obama's new remarks, literally speaking, re-open the question of which side he's on. Most of the mosque's foes recognize the legal right to build, and have asked the builders to reconsider.

But the clarification is, in political terms, puzzing [sic]. The signal Obama sent with his rhetoric last night wasn't that he had chosen to make a trivial, legal point about the First Amendment. He chose to make headlines in support of the mosque project, and he won't be able to walk them back now with this sprinkling of doubt. All he'll do is frustrate some of the people who so eagerly welcomed his words yesterday as a return to form.

Speaking of which, as Red State's Erick Erickson jokes, "This Ground Zero mosque may be the only time American socialists have ever supported property rights." Though some are questioning the timing.

Meanwhile, Pejman Yousefzadeh wonders if we're witnessing "A Presidential Meltdown?"

2012 remains a ways away, so there is time for the President to recover before he has to face re-election. But 2010 and the midterm elections? We are halfway into August already, so the Administration and the Democratic party have only two and a half months to engender a political turnaround. Increasingly, it appears that they will not be able to do it.

Don't miss the Telegraph article, written before the president's remarks yesterday, that Pejman links to.

Update: Last night was "One of the finest moments of Obama's presidency" according to the Washington Post -- and walked back less than 24 hours later.

And you thought your Friday the 13th was rough.

Related: "Obama Logic: Disdained White House Nativity Scene Due to Separation of Church and State, Vocally Markets Islamic Victory Mosque at Ground Zero," Doug Ross writes.

Update: Sarah Palin tweets, "We all know that they have the right to do it, but should they? This is not above your pay grade."

Not after he foolishly inserted himself into the controversy last night.