The New York Times ran a story today, "White House Quietly Courts Muslims in U.S.," that contrasts the Obama and George W. Bush administration records with regard to American Muslims. The reporter, Andrea Elliott, sums up her argument with a quote from James Zogby of the Arab American Institute: "For the first time in eight years, we have the opportunity to meet, engage, discuss, disagree, but have an impact on policy."
I don't believe it.
Yes, Obama is bending over backwards to win Muslim opinion. But Bush did the same. In each of their cases, of course, one can find inconsistencies and exceptions, but the overall Bush record showed great concern for Muslim opinion.
George W. Bush welcomed Muslims to the White House to break the Ramadan fast every year from 2001 on.
Interestingly, in covering the first Ramadan iftar at the White House in December 2001, the Times noted that Bush since 9/11 had "made extraordinary gestures to Islam." One quote in this article by Elisabeth Bumiller nails my point:
The Times revisionism is blatant and false. (April 19, 2010)
Maleeha Lodhi, the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, was … dazzled that the White House had a muezzin, a Muslim religious figure, who delivered the prayers before the meal. "It left me very, very moved and impressed," Dr. Lodhi said. "The Bush White House was demonstrating its respect for Islam. … these sorts of gestures are very important to sending signals to the Muslim world."