The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza is a regular and very welcome guest on the program. Prompted by Ace of Spades, I asked Chris on Tuesday prior to the presidential debate about MSM’s treatment of Joe Biden’s serial misstatements at last week’s VP debate. The transcript is here.
At the conclusion of the interview I inquired if Chris knew of Rashid Khalidi, and Khalidi’s friendship with Bill Ayers and Khalidi’s long association with Barack Obama. Chris didn’t, which didn’t surprise me as I hadn’t know about it either until an interview with Stanley Kurtz on Monday.
Khalidi is a Columbia professor and strong advocate for the Palestinians. He is a man of the left, and he is close to Obama and Ayers. Obama’s friendship with Khalidi would be unsettling to many supporters of Israel –if it was well known, which it isn’t. How close have Obama and Khalidi been? Here’s the opening of a Los Angeles Times article from 2007:
It was a celebration of Palestinian culture — a night of music, dancing and a dash of politics. Local Arab Americans were bidding farewell to Rashid Khalidi, an internationally known scholar, critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights, who was leaving town for a job in New York.
A special tribute came from Khalidi’s friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama. Speaking to the crowd, Obama reminisced about meals prepared by Khalidi’s wife, Mona, and conversations that had challenged his thinking.
His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases. . . . It’s for that reason that I’m hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation — a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table,” but around “this entire world.”
Today, five years later, Obama is a U.S. senator from Illinois who expresses a firmly pro-Israel view of Middle East politics, pleasing many of the Jewish leaders and advocates for Israel whom he is courting in his presidential campaign. The dinner conversations he had envisioned with his Palestinian American friend have ended. He and Khalidi have seen each other only fleetingly in recent years.
And yet the warm embrace Obama gave to Khalidi, and words like those at the professor’s going-away party, have left some Palestinian American leaders believing that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.
Their belief is not drawn from Obama’s speeches or campaign literature, but from comments that some say Obama made in private and from his association with the Palestinian American community in his hometown of Chicago, including his presence at events where anger at Israeli and U.S. Middle East policy was freely expressed.
What Kurtz explained to me is that Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi are very close:
HH: Tell us about Khalidi. Tell us who he is and his role in Obama’s life.
SK: Rashid Khalidi is really, in a sense, the American successor of Edward Said, a very strong advocate for the Palestinians, extremely radical in his views and his opposition to American foreign policy. He was a friend and colleague of Obama. Apparently they used to get together and discuss world affairs. And he’s practically the best friend of Bill Ayers. Bill Ayers features Khalidi in some of his books about how to politicize the teaching for students. So actually, the more you look into it, the more you see that this is not just people running into each other. And again, I object to the idea of just simply counting the times people were together in a room. When you fund Bill Ayers education projects, with hundreds of thousands of dollars, when you as Bill Ayers publish Rashid Khalidi’s essay in your book of collected essays, they might have gone on. That’s a lot without meeting once.
What all of this suggests is that the Hyde Park community of hard left intellectuals was tightly knit, and that Obama was at the heart of it. MSM’s indifference to this community and its impact on Obama is nothing short of astounding, like leaving Harvard and Hyannis Port out of story after story on Kennedy’s run for the presidency in 1960, or his Vietnam experiences out of Kerry’s bio in 2004.
At an early point in the debate, John McCain scolded Obama for wanting to raise taxes in a time of deep economic uncertainty and shrinking growth. He reminded the audience that Hoover had done the same thing, and mentioned protectionism only to put it aside with the remark that surely the debate would return to the issue of free trade in a world where economic growth is crucial to every nation’s rise.
McCain overestimated Tom Brokaw’s talents. The debate never returned to a serious discussion of tax policy in the face of frozen credit markets or to a conversation about the need to keep the world moving towards one market and one rising standard of living. It never got back to the first principles of freedom and dynamic democratic capitalism’s amazing strengths and benefits. McCain got in one very tough punch on the origins of the financial crisis in Freddie and Fannie and Obama and the Dems’ complicity in it and promised more, but the rest of the bout was shadow boxing until it turned to foreign policy which, important though it is, isn’t where the electorate is right now.
The argument about the disastrous economic policies being pushed by Obama must be made by McCain every day going forward even as the campaign continues to hammer Obama for his past judgment and future inclinations when it comes to allies and associates. Ayers-Rezko-Wright-Khalidi are part of a pattern that would certainly follow into the staffing of trhe vast federal establishment. The Daily Kos-Michael Moore wing of the Democratic Party wants its pages from the Plum Book, and the Pelosi-Reid staffers have all got their Assistant Secretary offices picked out. The Left is planning for a huge sweep, and a big party, and…
Then what? Obama-Pelosi-Reid will not be able to resist the massive tax hikes that have lurked behind their every scheme for the past 28 years since Reagan wrested the government from the last group of statists. The unions have wanted protectionism since Bill Clinton signed on to NAFTA. The environmentalists want the sort of global warming regime that will not merely curb but positively punish economic growth, and the anti-nuclear reflex within the Democratic Party is so deep that while Obama can make a few noises about the need for new nuke plants, none would begin under his tenure. Obama said last night that we need new oil exploration off-shore. Does anyone really believe that will happen? Energy shortages would go from a predictament to a policy overnight.
High taxes, falling trade, declining energy use: These are the macro issues. At every level of the government, though, the young Ayers-Rezkos-Wrights-Khalidis would be working their magic on the micro issues, but without a House or Senate in the hands of a GOP majority to moderate their enthusiasms. When Bill Clinton roared into town with House and Senate majorities in 1993, he was a “New Democrat” inheriting a growing economy on the cusp of a technological revolution that would drive productivity forward at an amazing rate, and his early energies were expended on a vast health care scheme too complicated even for his own party. His tax hikes were modest, but he did no lasting legislative damage before Newt arrived to clamp down on the Democrats’ worst instincts.
Obama is no centrist, and the Dems have gone much farther to the left since 1993, and the international economy is in the throes of a panic that everyone hopes eases soon but which could grow worse. International jihadism must sense this is a moment in which any strike they can muster would have enormous consequences for Western confidence, so we can only hope that the blows dealt al Qaeda in Iraq have crippled its reach for years to come, and that if he wins Obama will be so invested in his Afghanistan first rhetoric that he will be obliged to fight on that front for as long he is president and to allow General Petraeus control of the strategy.
But that “if he wins” is a real if, as the American people are clealry engaged and watching every minute of this drama very closely. The least consequential story of recent days is Obama’s advertising advantage. It isn’t an election that will be won on 30 second ads, not when the choice before us is all that anyone talks about when they aren’t talking about the sudden shrinking of their retirement accounts.
Everyone wants their money back. They want growth back. They don’t want to pay soaring taxes, and they don’t want to pay $4 a gallon gas.
They don’t want the financial estates that the Greatest Generation have accumulated over a lifetime of work to be transferred in bulk into the coffers of the government and not the grandkids.
They like Obama. I like Obama. Nearly everybody likes Obama.
But I don’t want to put the country through Great Depression 2.0, and I don’t want a vast army of academics and social engineers descending on D.C. with plans on how to remake America in their own extremist image.
The race is tight and very fluid because the electorate knows the enormous consequences of the choice before them even as McCain struggles to articulate it because McCain embodies it. Lefty pundits can’t believe how easy he went on Obama last night, and are left with “That one” to chew over as an outrage against their beloved leader. Conservative pundits wanted McCain to press the choice on the country with much more clarity than he did and to demand of Obama specificty to the agenda they know he is carrying, but McCain only did that on a couple of occasions. McCain committed no blunders. All of his answers were correct (though some of the free market people grumble about the mortgage buy-up) and his foreign policy credibility was again on display. But they wanted a devastating attack because that is what we do all day long –argue the case. McCain wasn’t arguing the case so much as referring to it.
McCain expects the country to get this. His 90 minutes was an extended reminder of his seriousness and the seriousness of the job and its difficulties. His surrogates will continue to hammer the unexplored side of Obama and what it would portend for an Obama Adminstration when it came to staffing, but McCain is going to keep making the one big point: This is no time for a rookie with big tax hikes, huge tariffs, expanding bureaucracies and a retreat and defeat foreign policy to take the helm.