With this being one of my final posts for Voices without Votes before Election Day, let me tip my hat to the worldâ€™s bloggers. I wouldnâ€™t have been able to follow this (quite gilded) roller coaster ride we call U.S. electoral politics if it hadnâ€™t been for the thousands of independent scribes we attempted to follow. For you, allow me to channel my inner Bette Midler: You have made me laugh and cry and wince and shriek with glee. Most of all, youâ€™ve made me think. I canâ€™t imagine what eight months of scandals, twists and turns, accusations, denials and counter denials would have been like without these, ahem, foreign bloggers.
With that in mind, letâ€™s catch on the last bit of campaign news.
It was last week when John McCainâ€™s campaign attempted to tie Barack Obama to a certain Rashid Khalidi, whom they refer to (at different times) as a â€œneo-nazi,â€ â€œradical professor,â€ a â€œformer PLO spokesmanâ€ who is an â€œanti-Semiteâ€ and a â€œpolitical allyâ€ of the Democratic candidate for President.
Rashid Khalidi is, in fact, the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University. He is American born and has denied working for the Palestine Liberation Organization. He did teach at the University of Chicago, where his family came to know the Obamaâ€™s. In April, the Los Angeles Times reported that Obama attended and spoke at a 2003 farewell party for Khalidi when he left for New York.
The McCain campaign has demanded the newspaper release a video it possess of the event, claiming that voters should know more about the relationship between Obama and Khalidi. The Republican campaign also said that former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers attended the party, which the LA Times did not report. Russ Stanton, editor of the LA Times, argues the tape was given to the newspaper by a confidential source on the condition they not release it.
The Obama camp professed that Khalidi is not an advisor to the campaign and pointed out that the International Republican Institute (where John McCain is the Chairman of the Board) admitted to funding projects for the Center for Palestine Research and Studies during the 1990s. Khalidi was a founder of this organization and had served on the board of directors.
Anyway, letâ€™s get to the bloggers.
Could an Israel hater be on his way to the White House? From Cuban-American blog Babalu:
The fact that the Times refuses to release a video tape of US Presidential candidate Barack Obama attending a going away party for former P.L.O. operative Rashid Khalidi has outraged many; but the real outrage is the fact that someone who attended what was most probably a Jew bashing party is a hairs-breath away from occupying the White House. Just imagine the outrage if McCain had been an active presence at a going away party for a member of the KKK.
If Obamaâ€™s ties to Middle East terrorists donâ€™t trouble you, they should.
A comment to the post from Mandingo takes umbrage in the Leftâ€™s dislike of Sarah Palin while supporting a guy like Rashid Khalidi:
The sad thing is that all the secular well educated liberal Jews in the Upper West Side of New York and around the nation are still voting for Obama because they fear the Republican party, especially Sarah Palin, as some kind of Torquemada fascist Christian fundamentalist movement that will institute pogroms against their families. They are so wrong, but out of white guilt they are voting for a man Obama that has ties to terrorists and that will most probably abandon the state of Israel, Taiwan, and most certainly dissidence in Cuba!
From Israel, Dr. Savtaâ€™s weblog gives us a quick note on a new form of cognitive dissonance:
1) For 20 years, Barack Obama sat in Reverend Wrightâ€™s congregation and didnâ€™t know that he preached anti-Semitic, anti-white, anti-American sermons
2) Barack Obama didnâ€™t know that Bill Ayres was an unrepentant terrorist.
3) Barack Obama didnâ€™t know that his aunt was living in the US illegally.
Do we really want a president who is that oblivious?
Melanie Phillips, a columnist who also maintains a blog at the Spectator in the United Kingdom worries that Obama isnâ€™t providing his true views on Jihadism:
Senator McCain declared that the threat to the Homeland is a movement and an ideology, Jihadism. Senator Obama didn't tell us if that is his view as well. Instead we saw shreds of political alliances between his campaign and groups affiliated with this particular ideology. I am not impressed with the â€˜Weather Undergroundâ€™ network story as much as I am concerned about the access the political Jihadists will have to US National Security.
If that happens, Homeland Security will be at risk. Hence until I get answers to this fundamental question from Senator Obama's campaign, I do have a national security concern. Until then I can project a spread of Jihadi sympathizer networks within the country and even throughout many layers of Government. Over four years, and possibly eight, such a growth would become malignant. Over less than a decade, Americans could find themselves in situations never experienced since the Civil War.
Guy Rundle Live from Australia thinks that this campaign against Khalidi may gain some traction mostly because America's dysfunctional relationship with Israel.
No-oneâ€™s accusing Rashid Khalidi of any crimes, but the whole hypocritical US thing about Palestine and the intifada is so tangled that the Obama-Ayers-Rashid circle of acquiantanceship /friendship in NY/Chicago can be made to look like some deep cover plot to take the Presidency.
The smoking gun would be the video the LA Times has and wonâ€™t release because of journalist-source confidentiality. But does any footage remain unreleased these days? To be sure, if it hit the streets on Sunday or Monday, and itâ€™s Obama laughing when someone says â€˜Intifada? hell I married her!â€™ or something, or even sitting there while someone goes on a great Satan rant, then that could be a killer.
Me, Iâ€™d love to have a friend of communists and Palestinian radicals in the white house, but thatâ€™s kinda why team Obama havenâ€™t led with that angle.
However, he blames the right wing media for not picking up on the story earlier:
Still itâ€™s really weird that this was all there in plain sight – the LA Times report was in 2007 – and no-one on the right picked it up until a Wall Street Journal writer added it to the Ayers material about a fortnight ago. The right keeps going on about silencing by the media, but FOX, and Limbaugh et al could have been running it for yonks.
Possibly they were dissuaded by the fact that McCainâ€™s International Republican Institute gave the guy a half million dollars – enough money to look kinda dumb, compared to having dinners with him. But since McCain has nothing to lose well, heâ€™s got nothing to lose.
Otto, from Ottoâ€™s Random Thoughts has a personal tie — a brush with campaign greatness, if you will. It so happens that Khalidi was the Phd supervisor to Ottoâ€™s Phd supervisor at the School of African and Oriental Studies at the University of London:
I saw him speak once at SOAS. I thought his talk was very good. It was certainly not “radical” compared to many other speakers on Palestine at SOAS. Indeed, other than in the context of US politics, where any criticism of the State of Israel is taken as “radical” could Khalidi be considered anything, but a moderate. But, of course in the US even opposition to such extreme Israeli policies as torture and killing children is often denounced as “anti-semitism.”
Will at KABOBFest, writes a defense of Rashid Khalidi and finds the McCain verging on desperation.
Besides the obvious point that the Rashid Khalidi-Obama connection is a complete non-story, it also reeks of the ugliness of political desperation: hate-mongering.
Arab-bashing, to borrow liberally from the saying about anti-Semitism, is the ideology of scoundrels. How easily talking heads readily assume that professor Rashid Khalidi is an anti-Semite because he criticizes Israel. This is driven not by the “content of his character” or the substance of his critiques, but by his ethnicity. His Arabness is what enables the failure by anyone to challenge this. And an innocent and highly recognized scholarâ€™s name is trudged through the mud
The post also contains a link to a two-year-old interview KABOBFest conducted with Khalidi.