Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

October 30, 2008

The McCain-Khalidi Connection

The Khalidi tape that Johnah McPalin and most of wingnuttia are frothing at the mouth about is such utter nonsense I didn't want to blog about it, but Ben Smith e-mailing Rashid Khalidi about "McCain's suggestion that going to his going-away party was like attending a neo-Nazi event" got my attention. I was curious about the man's reaction to all the insanity being spewed against him and Barack Obama.

Khalidi, an American academic and scholar who specializes in Middle Eastern studies, replied that he isn't talking to the press, but pointed to Scott Horton's article at Harper's magazine -- aptly entitled The New McCarthyism -- which rebutted "a few of the stupider and more outrageous things" being said about him.

Bottom line: Khalidi is not a scary radical, unless you believe that advocating human rights and nonviolence in the Middle East are radical. Yet the National Review guys like Andrew McCarthy, whose rantings McCain/Palin parrot for some reason, practically call the guy a terrorist even though there's this:

Of course, Khalidi has been involved in Palestinian causes. McCarthy ought to ask John McCain about that, because McCain and Khalidi appear to have some joint interests, and that fact speaks very well of both of them. Indeed, the McCain–Khalidi connections are more substantial than the phony Obama–Khalidi connections McCarthy gussies up for his article. The Republican party’s congressionally funded international-networking organization, the International Republican Institute–long and ably chaired by John McCain and headed by McCain’s close friend, the capable Lorne Craner–has taken an interest in West Bank matters. IRI funded an ambitious project, called the Palestine Center, that Khalidi helped to support. Khalidi served on the Center’s board of directors. The goal of that project, shared by Khalidi and McCain, was the promotion of civic consciousness and engagement and the development of democratic values in the West Bank. Of course, McCarthy is not interested in looking too closely into the facts, because they would not serve his shrill partisan objectives.
Newsweek's Andrew Romano adds:

So to claim Khalidi somehow taints Obama without tainting McCain is disingenuous. The truth is, he taints neither of them.

Strip away all the baseless innuendo--the PLO stuff, the "Neo-Nazism," etc.--and you're left with a pretty unremarkable kernal of information: Obama once enjoyed discussing Middle Eastern issues with a professor whose pro-Palestine perspective often clashed with his more pro-Israel worldview. (As Obama told a Boca synagogue in May, "one of the raps on me when I first ran for Congress in [Chicago's] African American community was that 'he was too close to the Jewish community.'")
As for who actually had a strong influence on Obama's views, Scott Horton clued in the rabid horde on where to look:

I have a suggestion for Andy McCarthy and his Hyde Park project. If he really digs down deep enough, he will come up with a Hyde Park figure who stood in constant close contact with Barack Obama and who, unlike Ayers and Khalidi, really did influence Obama’s thinking about law, government, and policy. He is to my way of thinking a genuine radical. His name is Richard Posner, and he appears to be the most frequently and positively cited judge and legal academic in… National Review.

posted at 2:16 AM by Wonky Muse

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"Sapere Aude."
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Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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