Eric Alterman discusses the latest McCain smear: namely that Obama and Rashid Khalidi were at a dinner party, five years ago. Terrifying news I know, but what else does McCain have to run on? Not much apparently.
This pathetic effort should, in a normal world, be laughed off the airwaves and news pages. First and most importantly, Khalidi is not someone that anyone should be ashamed to know. He is a noted and well-respected Palestinian scholar. Michael Hudson, director of the Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown, describes Khalidi as pre-eminent in his field, a courageous scholar and public figure. John McCain apparently thought so too at one point, since the International Republican Institute, with McCain at the helm, gave Khalidi’s Centre for Palestine Research and Studies a $448,000 grant in the late 1990s.
No concrete offence of Khalidi’s has actually been alleged, so far as I’m aware, except that he once served as spokesman for the PLO, which Khalidi denies. Still, McCain made this stunning comparison on Wednesday: “If there was a tape of John McCain in a neo-Nazi outfit, I think the treatment of the issue would be slightly different,” he said in an interview with Hispanic radio stations.
This modern-day McCarthyism seems to rely much more on the fact that Rashid Khalidi’s name is Rashid Khalidi than any concrete allegations of wrongdoing. And the haphazard insinuation that maybe Ayers was there too is a transparent attempt to bait the Times into releasing the tape. The McCain people must know that a journalist cannot and will not burn a source. “The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it,” said the newspaper’s editor, Russ Stanton. “The Times keeps its promises to sources.”
Perhaps Sarah Palin is actually ignorant enough about journalism to believe the foolish charge she utters when complaining: “It must be nice for a candidate to have major news organisations looking out for their best interests like that. Politicians would love to have a pet newspaper of their very own.” But surely Goldfarb, who left the Weekly Standard to join McCain’s campaign, knows better, and is playing the dim bulb for purely political purposes.
Way to keep it classy, John.