Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 29, 2008

GUILT-BY-ASSOCIATION WATCH.... Apparently, some years back, as part of his career in academia, Barack Obama attended a going-away party for Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian American.

John McCain and his campaign have joined right-wing bloggers in thinking there's something sinister about Obama having known Khalidi, who conservatives insist was an aide to Yasser Arafat -- a claim that has not stood up well to scrutiny.

As long as McCain wants to go down this road, though it's probably worth fleshing out his own ties to the same professor.

During the 1990s, while he served as chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI), McCain distributed several grants to the Palestinian research center co-founded by Khalidi, including one worth half a million dollars.

A 1998 tax filing for the McCain-led group shows a $448,873 grant to Khalidi's Center for Palestine Research and Studies for work in the West Bank. (See grant number 5180, "West Bank: CPRS" on page 14 of this PDF.)

The relationship extends back as far as 1993, when John McCain joined IRI as chairman in January. Foreign Affairs noted in September of that year that IRI had helped fund several extensive studies in Palestine run by Khalidi's group, including over 30 public opinion polls and a study of "sociopolitical attitudes."

Now, just to be clear, what's wrong with McCain having directed thousands of dollars in grants to Khalidi's research center? Not a thing. As far as I can tell, no one has questioned Khalidi's scholarship or the work of the Center for Palestine Research and Studies.

McCain and his cohorts, however, believe there's a lingering scandal about Obama having gone to Khalidi's going-away party some years back. The hypocrisy is breathtaking, even for them.

Steve Benen 1:12 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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Comments

In two words: National Review.

Posted by: Monty on October 29, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but there's footage of Obama shaking hands with a guy with a terrorist sounding name...that proves Obama is a radical muslim.

You know how Republican'ts can't think.

Posted by: Gridlock on October 29, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Obama made a funny comment in his NC rally today (where btw, two people apparently fainted and Obama responded cooly and with class, as usual) about sharing his Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches in grade school: "Soon they'll say that was communist..".

Posted by: iseerussiafromyhouse on October 29, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Not only communist, but un-caring about peanut allergies! Has the man no tact at all.

Sheesh....

Posted by: sduffys on October 29, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I guess this is supposed to scare Jewish folks and that will come as a surprise to Mr. Khalidi's Jewish friends and those of his children, whom I know personally.

Posted by: Jay on October 29, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

wow, six days out and THIS is what they want to talk about??

I'm starting to feel real good about this!

Posted by: neilt on October 29, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

"As far as I can tell, no one has questioned Khalidi's scholarship or the work of the Center for Palestine Research and Studies."

Actually, Khalidi's come under major assault from right-wing Jewish groups, notably something called the David Project. The blogger K.C. Johnson [of Durham in Wonderland fame] has been all over this for a long time; see

http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/55314.html

[I don't endorse this; I'm just reporting].

Posted by: David in Nashville on October 29, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno, that PDF looks pretty suspicious. That page is in a different font, and has the name of McCain's group hand-written on it.

I'm all for piling on McCain, but don't do it ways that'll come back and bite us.

Posted by: Jon Marcus on October 29, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,

Dude, you gotta stop saying things like "the hypocrisy is breathtaking, even for them."

It's not.

Every day a new low is reached, every day you seem to be shocked. C'mon, man, there's a little under a week left and you're shocked? Wait for the ending -- it's probably gonna be a doozy. What we're watching here is not a sort of campaign, but a new form of Dadaist performance art.

Sit back and enjoy the show. Release your inhibitions and flow, man...

Posted by: yam on October 29, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

IOKIYAR..."Do as I say, not as I do"...

Sheesh, haven't we all learned that about conservatives yet? Oh, and if you throw the bullshit flag? Then you're anti-American.

Posted by: grape_crush on October 29, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

If the tape is so boring and irrelevant, then why did the LA Times print an article about it during the primaries?

If it's so irrelevant, why don't they just show the darn thing and be done with it?

Posted by: Joe B on October 29, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's kind of like, when you are being raped, if you just lay back and enjoy it, it will not be so bad. The pain is in the resistance. People who rape you are just wanting to get some love and if you deny them, then you are part of the problem. We have been being raped for 8 years, now, and if we don't start enjoying it soon, it may never end. Does it matter if it is a gorilla or an Elephant? /snark a lot/

peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on October 29, 2008 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama truly had a history of terror conspiracy, communist and socialist training, radical blah, blah, blah, don't you think hard facts would have emerged by this point.

Knowing just how lame the McCain campaign is (read: Palin vetting), I don't really suspect they're waiting (at this point) for the NYT to do the oppo research every presidential campaign has done since the beginning of time.

For them to pawn the responsibility off on the instrument they've attacked nearly everyday for the past two months is unbelievable.

This is why should lose in Missouri!

Posted by: TBone on October 29, 2008 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Soon, the only thing left will be for McCain to attack the relationship between Obama and McCain's own mother.

Posted by: short fuse on October 29, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Rashid Khalidi is a highly respected Middle East historian. What the extreme right-wingers resent is that he's advocated for human rights in the region including for Palestinians; has dared to criticize certain Israeli policies; has demonstrated that there was a Palestinian nationalist movement long before 1947; and has criticized neo-colonialist interventions by the west in the ME.

A few discredited whackos have been attacking Khalidi for several years, but for a sitting Senator to embrace these baseless smears in an attempt to advance his political career smacks of McCarthyism.

Obama has nothing to be ashamed of in associating with Khalidi. I wish he had the courage to offer a staunch defense of his friend and to denounce those who are hounding Khalidi. The way to defeat McCarthyite tactics is to make the scum pay a price for their scumbaggery.

Posted by: smintheus on October 29, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Every day a new low is reached, every day you seem to be shocked...Wait for the ending -- it's probably gonna be a doozy."

I just hope the daily devolving prepares us for the finale.

Posted by: on October 29, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

It's all about the pictures. The wingnuts know that, like children, their followers respond well to pictures. So a news story about John McCain distributing grants doesn't get the same traction as a picture of Obama shaking hands with the guy.

Posted by: Jersey Tomato on October 29, 2008 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Obama made a funny comment in his NC rally today ... about sharing his Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches in grade school

I'm sure McCain's staff is feverishly looking over the student rosters of Obama's "madrasa" to find another young socialist terrorist that will testify that Obama only ate bologna sandwiches and never shared them anyway.

Posted by: AJB on October 29, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Obama short: "If McCain says that this guy is a terrorist, then why was McCain giving this terrorist all that money? Isn't offering financial support to America's enemies supposed to be something called TREASON?!?"

Posted by: Steve W. on October 29, 2008 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Watched the David Letterman show with McCain on TiVo (finally) and wonder why the Gordon Liddy knock isn't getting more play.

Thought Letterman made McCain look pretty darned ridiculous.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on October 29, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Knowing someone! That's nothing. Palin has lived door to the evil Russians for years, which means she is probably one of them.

Posted by: Milt on October 29, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

You don't get it, do you?

Obama and his insidious "liberal Congressional candidates" are far more susceptible to evil than "Real Americans".

McCain can give a half million bucks to the guy and stay aloof; untouched.
Have a piece of cake and put on a party hat to wish him off? Best buds!

Attend a Christian church for 25 years, but spend 2 years in a state school in Indonesia that, by law, is required to teach Islam in class? Secret cell Muslim!!!

Ask for donations at a guy's house while coffee is served? BFF!!!

For Republicans in the know, when it comes to Democratic candidates, one drop is all it takes...

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on October 29, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Dear John McCain,

Thanks for letting me know that my mother has been wrong all these years. I do not have to respect or even tolerate people who don't think like I do. I should only talk to, and associate with, people who agree with me on everything. Barack Obama, that radical bonehead, just doesn't get it. He has a pattern of talking to, and even befriending, people who have ideas that are very different from his own. From what I've read, Obama befriended conservative students when he was President of the Harvard Law Review, frequently engaged with some of the most conservative law professors at the University of Chicago Law School when he taught there, sat on the Board of a charitable foundation with both conservative Republicans and a former left-wing radical, spoke to both Palistinian and Jewish groups in Chicago, and worked with conservative Republicans in the Senate on issues such as nuclear proliferation. This is dangerous behavior, particularly for a politician or a law professor. My father-in-law is a law professor, and I know for a fact that he has sat in faculty meetings, served on committees, attended dinners and cocktail parties, and even co-wrote articles with other professors whose ideas are way out of the mainstream. Worse, his law school has invited radical speakers from around the world to express their objectionable thoughts to students who deserve to be educated, not indoctrinated. Perhaps J. Edgar Hoover was right when he insisted that the FBI "open a file" on my father-in-law because he was a Jew with a suspiciously Russian-sounding name, and an interest in helping the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. Perhaps if my father-in-law had been stopped back then, we wouldn't have to deal with all that civil liberties stuff that has prevented the FBI from wiretapping every domestic phone call to keep us safe and free. So, thank you John McCain, for helping me understand how important it is to shun every person who doesn't think like me and reject every idea that I didn't come up with on my own. It's liberating to know that the proper thing to do at work, speeches, conventions, political rallies, synagogue, or birthday dinners is to walk out (quickly) whenever someone says something I disagree with.

Sincerely,
A loyal fan (I swear I'm loyal. Please believe me.)

Posted by: frontstreet on October 29, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

A meeting with a Palestinian academic is a cause for outrage? That's it? The GOP's spinmeisters are slipping, and slipping badly. Off the top of my head:

Rosalyn Carter helped John Wayne Gacy bury the corpses of his murder victims, and afterwards proudly posed for a photo with the maniac. Her husband dropped acid while president (and in control of nuclear launch codes) and hallucinated being attacked by a rabbit while fishing. Bill Clinton trafficked cocaine, and left a trail of dead bodies on his march to the White House. John Kerry shot himself to further his political career.

Posted by: JL on October 29, 2008 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

smintheus:

"Obama has nothing to be ashamed of in associating with Khalidi. I wish he had the courage to offer a staunch defense of his friend and to denounce those who are hounding Khalidi. The way to defeat McCarthyite tactics is to make the scum pay a price for their scumbaggery."

I agree that it would be nice if Obama defends Khalidi. If he doesn't, my guess is that he doesn't feel like answering every ludicrous talking point that the Repubs and the McCain/Palin campaign come up with. Moreover, we need to see what he says tonight in his 1/2 hour.

But I have a nit to pick. Is there any evidence that he is friends with Khalidi beyond the fact that they were both professors at the same institution for a time? Professors attend each others' parties all the time (free food) but that doesn't necessarily make them BFFs.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on October 29, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

what's despicable is that they are dragging a respectable scholar's name through the mud just to score some cheap political points on someone else. Khalidi should sue for defamation.

This is disgusting.

Posted by: g on October 29, 2008 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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