The project is opposed by many of the leading GOP officials in Congress, from John Boehner to Eric Cantor to Mitch McConnell. What's more, the battle over the Islamic center has actually become a litmus test for the 2012 GOP hopefuls, with Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Tim Pawlenty all trying to out-demagogue each other on the issue.I think that's right, and therefore while it may be true that this could have been an occasion for a GOP fight, in fact it's just a (further) ratification of something that had already happened. Moreover, I tend to agree with Nick Beaudrot that Bush-era religious pluralism is somewhat overstated.
Meanwhile, on the other side, the Republicans who have stepped forward to support the project are largely former Bush officials who are no longer in positions of power or aren't running for office anytime soon. In other words, the Cheney-ite line has become the required position of thise with actual influence within the GOP -- or those who are currently in the process of seeking it.
As far as Chait's other point -- that this fracas is "a marker about the place of Muslims in American society" -- well, it may be a better-than-usual opportunity to judge just how much bigotry there may be, and how openly it gets expressed, but that doesn't mean that anything is changing as a result of this latest flap.
I do think that his point about internal GOP differences is perfectly plausible, but I just don't see it actually happening.