The McCain campaign is pushing hard on the Rashid Khalidi story. Khalidi is a public intellectual and a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University. He has a history of critical statements about Israel and has been accused of serving as a PLO spokesman decades ago. He denies that charge.
He also happens to be a friend of Barack Obama’s. They were both at a function that the LA Times has video tape of, which the McCain campaign now wants to see released. The campaign is painting Obama’s ties to Khalidi as another example of Obama’s “unsavory” associations.
But wait. First of all, John McCain has some awfully bad judgment if Khalidi is so objectionable. McCain served as chairman of the International Republican Institute, which provided grants worth roughly $500,000 to the Center for Palestine Research and Studies, a group Khalidi co-founded.
Second, this Khalidi business is, at its heart, a backdoor way for the McCain campaign to bring up Jeremiah Wright, which its candidate has promised he will not do. “Obama hangs out with multiple dudes who hate Israel! You know who we’re talking about!” Today on CNN, a McCain spokesman tried to pull this trick and the anchor asked him to make it explicit. He refused to do so, making his ploy transparent and making himself look like an ass. I was entertained: