Friday, May 16, 2008

James Rubin Busts McCain for Hamas Hypocrisy

Cindy was getting a manicure when the news broke that George Bush had made his smarmy appeasement slur, and her polish wasn't dry by the time JSM had jumped on the bandwagon and agreed whole heartedly with the brilliance that is Bush.

Yes, indeed, he did chime in. Yes, indeed. The Democrats are a bunch of soft-on-Israel terrorist appeasers. Talking to “terrorists and radicals'’ was no different than appeasing Hitler and the Nazis. “Yes, there have been appeasers in the past, and the president is exactly right, and one of them is Neville Chamberlain,'’ McCain told reporters on the campaign bus after an appearance in Ohio. Asked if he thought that Barack Obama was an "appeaser" McCain was maddeningly, infuriatingly, smarmy in his answer. “I think that Barack Obama needs to explain why he wants to sit down and talk with a man who is the head of a government that is a state sponsor of terrorism, that is responsible for the killing of brave young Americans, that wants to wipe Israel off the map, who denies the Holocaust. That’s what I think Senator Obama ought to explain to the American people.'’

All well and good. So long as you understand that this is a new position McCain has settled on. Two years ago, when he wasn't running for president, he wasn't just singing from a different hymnal than the current one, he was across town worshiping with a small charismatic congregation.
Charging your opponents with appeasement and likening them to Neville Chamberlain in the Knesset is a brutal blow. It is bad enough that Republicans use the politics of personal destruction here at home, but to deploy that kind of political weapon at an occasion as solemn as an American president addressing the parliament of a friendly government marks a new low.

McCain, meanwhile, is guilty of hypocrisy. I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton and believe that she was right to say, about McCain's statement on Hamas, "I don't think that anybody should take that seriously." Unfortunately, the Republicans know that some people will. That's why they say such things.

But given his own position on Hamas, McCain is the last politician who should be attacking Obama. Two years ago, just after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections, I interviewed McCain for the British network Sky News's "World News Tonight" program. Here is the crucial part of our exchange:

I asked: "Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?"

McCain answered: "They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that."

Nothing really to add. McCain will say anything to pander for votes. But we know that already.

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