I’ve been doing my best today to ignore the McCain campaign’s current non-issue du jour — the release of a video showing Sen. Barack Obama’s attendance at a going-away party for a pro-Palestine professor, Rashid Khalidi. But it looks like this is all that matters to Sen. John McCain.
In April, The Los Angeles Times published a story that included a description of a videotape of a 2003 party for Khalidi as he was preparing to leave his job at the University of Chicago for his current gig at Columbia University. Obama, then an Illinois state senator, was at the party and gave a moderate speech about bringing opposing sides together, according to the Times.
In an interview this morning with Radio Mambi, a popular Spanish-language radio station in South Florida, McCain apparently seized on a 2005 New York Sun report alleging that former Weatherman and fellow Chicagoan William Ayers was also at the party. This was not reported in The Times story.
McCain also claimed that Khalidi was a spokesman for Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization, a charge Khalidi has denied. McCain joined other conservatives in calling on the Times to release the video.
However, the newspaper says the videotape was shared on the condition that it not be released. To release it would signal to all future potential sources that The Los Angeles Times will give them up at the first sign of pressure.
The whole thing is clearly a distraction. If McCain is really concerned about Khalidi, he should explain why the International Republican Institute, which McCain chaired at the time, gave an organization headed by Khalidi a grant of nearly $500,000 in 1998.
But the convergence of Obama, Ayers and someone with an Arabic name is a perfect bundle for McCain, particularly in South Florida — home to lots and lots of Jews. People weren’t really buying the Ayers-Obama tie, but with Khalidi in the mix, the new implication is: Obama is connected to Ayers, a former domestic terrorist; both are connected to a Muslim who reputedly was connected to the PLO, which was viewed by Israel as a terrorist organization. Ergo, Obama is connected to Islamic terrorism. Throwing a representative of the elite liberal media into the narrative doesn’t hurt either.
However, if McCain really wants people to believe that Obama has connections to terrorism, he should stop pussy-footing around the issue and come out and say it – so the American people can judge the merits of the claim openly and honestly.