WITH THE presidential campaign clock ticking down, Sen. John McCain has suddenly discovered a new boogeyman to link to Sen. Barack Obama: a sometimes controversial but widely respected Middle East scholar named Rashid Khalidi. In the past couple of days, Mr. McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, have likened Mr. Khalidi, the director of a Middle East institute at Columbia University, to neo-Nazis; called him “a PLO spokesman”; and suggested that the Los Angeles Times is hiding something sinister by refusing to release a videotape of a 2003 dinner in honor of Mr. Khalidi at which Mr. Obama spoke. Mr. McCain even threw former Weatherman Bill Ayers into the mix, suggesting that the tape might reveal that Mr. Ayers — a terrorist-turned-professor who also has been an Obama acquaintance — was at the dinner.
For the record, Mr. Khalidi is an American born in New York who graduated from Yale a couple of years after George W. Bush. For much of his long academic career, he taught at the University of Chicago, where he and his wife became friends with Barack and Michelle Obama. In the early 1990s, he worked as an adviser to the Palestinian delegation at peace talks in Madrid and Washington sponsored by the first Bush administration. We don’t agree with a lot of what Mr. Khalidi has had to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the years, and Mr. Obama has made clear that he doesn’t, either. But to compare the professor to neo-Nazis — or even to Mr. Ayers — is a vile smear.
Perhaps unsurprising for a member of academia, Mr. Khalidi holds complex views. In an article published this year in the Nation magazine, he scathingly denounced Israeli practices in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and U.S. Middle East policy but also condemned Palestinians for failing to embrace a nonviolent strategy. He said that the two-state solution favored by the Bush administration (and Mr. Obama) was “deeply flawed” but conceded there were also “flaws in the alternatives.” Listening to Mr. Khalidi can be challenging — as Mr. Obama put it in the dinner toast recorded on the 2003 tape and reported by the Times in a detailed account of the event last April, he “offers constant reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases.”
It’s fair to question why Mr. Obama felt as comfortable as he apparently did during his Chicago days in the company of men whose views diverge sharply from what the presidential candidate espouses. Our sense is that Mr. Obama is a man of considerable intellectual curiosity who can hear out a smart, if militant, advocate for the Palestinians without compromising his own position.
All partisans have a tendency to underplay their candidates flaws, but since it is a well known fact that McBush financed Rashid Khalidi’s Middle-East studies, McCain supporters and McCain himself are disparately hoping for the purest of partisan blindness. For Obama, Khalidi was a fellow academic with a point of view. Since when has listening to various opinions been evidence of unqualified endorsement of those opinions. I read Conservative opinion pieces that covers the spectrum of the Right’s takes on polices and issues, that doesn’t make me a Conservative. McCain has claimed that Khalidi represented the PLO. That is an absolute falsehood and McCain knows it, Khalidi was in a delegation sent by the Bush Sr administration to peace talks in Madrid. No wonder McCain is struggling in his home state, Arizonans ae getting a good long look at the real McCain – a shameless modern McCarthyite.
The head of the Hillsborough GOP, David Storck, distributed an email from a Republican Party volunteer saying the voters are a threat.
That’s because, as the volunteer says in the email, he sees “car loads of black Obama supporters coming from the inner city to cast their votes for Obama.”
It goes on to say, “This is their chance to get a black president and they seem to care little the he is at minimum a socialist and probably Marxist in his core beliefs.” The Republican volunteer says that is because, “After all he is black- no experience or accomplishments but he is black.”
So the head of the Tampa NAACP chapter, a black Republican finds himself embarrassed and asking for Storck to resign. This another McCain campaign legacy, by casting Senator Obama as the radical other, they’ve set back any gains other, less reckless Republicans made in reaching out to the African American community.
Half of likely voters in the poll said McCain would mainly lead the country in the same direction as Bush, a figure that has held at about that level for nearly the entire campaign; 47 percent said he would lead in a new direction. It’s an association that cuts straight to the vote: Barack Obama’s support reaches 90 percent among those who believe McCain would continue in Bush’s direction, and more than three-quarters of such voters see McCain as a risky choice.
McBush is making zero progress in convincing moderate voters that he is not another Bush term. The Economist speels out part of the reason, The Moral of the Maverick Story
That, however, was Senator McCain; the Candidate McCain of the past six months has too often seemed the victim of political sorcery, his good features magically inverted, his bad ones exaggerated. The fiscal conservative who once tackled Mr Bush over his unaffordable tax cuts now proposes not just to keep the cuts, but to deepen them. The man who denounced the religious right as “agents of intolerance” now embraces theocratic culture warriors. The campaigner against ethanol subsidies (who had a better record on global warming than most Democrats) came out in favour of a petrol-tax holiday. It has not all disappeared: his support for free trade has never wavered. Yet rather than heading towards the centre after he won the nomination, Mr McCain moved to the right.
One thing that The Economist does that is wearing thin is the idea that the canidate the public is seeing is not the good old McCain. This allows those moderate Conservatives that were hoping Mccain would rescue Conservatism from the neocons a some after the election rationalizing. If only the old maverick had run. If Mccain was a man of true convictions, he would not have given them up so completely for the presidency. What the public is seeing now is McCain letting his, for lack of a better word, demons out. he’s obviously not trying to win on the issues, he’s hoping like hell he can win by destroying Obama’s reputation. If he campaigns like a hothead, he’ll govern like one. Peggy Noonan who has a fainting spell anytime someone mentions her hero Ronald Reagan almost accidently points out how shallow and fake McCain is in all his maverick glory, The case for Barack Obama, in broad strokes
His self-confessed role model for many years was Robert Jordan in Ernest Hemingway’s novel of the Spanish Civil War, “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Mr. McCain, in his last memoir: “He was and remains to my mind a hero for the twentieth century . . . an idealistic freedom fighter” who had “a beautiful fatalism” and who sacrificed “for something else, something greater.” Actually Jordan fought on the side of the communists and died pointlessly, but never mind.
Everyone likes Jordan, there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is that McCain adopted him as a hero like a mindless fan-boy. McCain’s notions about Hemingway’s larger then life heroes served one purpose, to cast himself as a hero in that bigger then life mold. His political life has hardly been about “something greater” from dumping the starter wife to the Keating Five Scandal to his current campaign, his heroism has been more a figment of the way he imagined himself then what he has actually delivered.