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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

WaPo editorial finally admits that Ayers is vile, but defends Obama, Khalidi, and LAT on pure faith

Halloween was, in hindsight, a good day, and in particular a good day to fisk the Washington Post, as I did in a guest-post at HH.com. (The real target, though, was the LA Times. Whatever, peas in a pod.)

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[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]

(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)

I'm a fan of the art of the backhanded complement. Giving someone praise subtly and indirectly can be more effective.

I am not a fan, however, of the backhanded condemnation, of which the Washington Post's editorialists today provide us with a superb and absurd example in the course of a spirited defense of Rashid Khalidi (boldface mine):

In the past couple of days, Mr. McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, have likened Mr. Khalidi, the director of a Middle East institute at Columbia University, to neo-Nazis; called him "a PLO spokesman"; and suggested that the Los Angeles Times is hiding something sinister by refusing to release a videotape of a 2003 dinner in honor of Mr. Khalidi at which Mr. Obama spoke. Mr. McCain even threw former Weatherman Bill Ayers into the mix, suggesting that the tape might reveal that Mr. Ayers — a terrorist-turned-professor who also has been an Obama acquaintance — was at the dinner.

For the record, Mr. Khalidi is an American born in New York who graduated from Yale a couple of years after George W. Bush. For much of his long academic career, he taught at the University of Chicago, where he and his wife became friends with Barack and Michelle Obama. In the early 1990s, he worked as an adviser to the Palestinian delegation at peace talks in Madrid and Washington sponsored by the first Bush administration. We don't agree with a lot of what Mr. Khalidi has had to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the years, and Mr. Obama has made clear that he doesn't, either. But to compare the professor to neo-Nazis — or even to Mr. Ayers — is a vile smear.

At last! At last the Washington Post recognizes — backhandedly — that today's Bill Ayers, and not just the Bill Ayers of the 1960s and 1970s, is such a twisted dollop of evil scum that comparing a mere terrorist sympathizer to him is a "vile smear" of the sympathizer!

But "terrorist sympathizer" Khalidi has indeed been, by anyone's most charitable definition. And one may make a reasonable case that he's been a terrorist enabler as well, in the sense of providing encouragement, advice, intellectual support, and a fig-leaf of social legitimacy to murderous thugs like Yassir Arafat.

The Washington Post's editors are entitled to their own opinion of Khalidi. What they are not entitled to, however, is to chide John McCain or Sarah Palin — or you or me — for wanting the American public to be given access to the best actual evidence of what was said at this dinner attended by Ayers, Khalidi, and would-be POTUS Barack Obama.

The WaPo concedes that "[i]t's fair to question why Mr. Obama felt as comfortable as he apparently did during his Chicago days in the company of men whose views diverge sharply from what the presidential candidate espouses." Yet the WaPo's editors are eager to reach a conclusive judgment on the unimportance of this tape without ever having watched it.

The WaPo insists — with no basis more solid than hope — that Sen. Obama "is a man of considerable intellectual curiosity who can hear out a smart, if militant, advocate for the Palestinians without compromising his own position." But others of us, including many supporters of Israel and some substantial number of as-yet-undecided American voters, distrust what Sen. Obama says is his position, and we may well interpret his placid silence when confronted with those outrages as tacit approval. Some of us who are less phlegmatic by nature than Sen. Obama may find ourselves offended and, indeed, outraged by what was said at that dinner.

Given what the WaPo editors admit — which is that "Listening to Mr. Khalidi can be challenging" even when he's speaking on the record for international distribution — it's not at all hard to imagine that he or his good friends may have said very vile things indeed at this dinner. And some of them may well be so vile that they actually might deter someone previously inclined to vote for Obama from doing so.

What's on this tape may move tens of thousands of votes in a battleground state like Florida. A national election might hang in the balance. Can we imagine Ben Bradlee, Carl Bernstein, and Bob Woodward being equally complacent, willing to place their full reliance on someone else, when it came to reviewing the Nixon White House tapes?

As for the WaPo defending the Los Angeles' Times' journalistic ethics: No promise should ever have been made to the LAT's source that the tape wouldn't be shown. Indeed, it was the making of that promise by the LAT's reporter which was the unethical act: Journalists aren't ethically free to bargain with their sources about what news they will and won't report. Doubling down on an unethical act by blind enforcement of that promise isn't ethical behavior, it's compounding the original sin. And in any event, given that the LAT has already reported that a tape was made, and that they have it, and some of what's on it, no promise of confidentiality to the LAT's source can possibly be impaired by the LAT releasing at least (a) an audio version of the entire tape and (b) a transcript.

Whatever else it may become known for in history, this election will surely top any predecessor in cosmic irony: The Washington Post has morphed from a righteous instrument through which truth is exposed into a besotted apologist for another paper's transparent and unethical cover-up, so that they may jointly save the bacon of their mutually preferred candidate (who once again can't quite seem to "close the deal" on his own). Instead of telling truths, the Post's editors savage and ridicule those like Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin for merely asking that the truth be exposed — so that the American public can decide for itself the significance of that truth. Their editorial finishes with this snide comment:

We did ask Mr. Khalidi whether he wanted to respond to the campaign charges against him. He answered, via e-mail, that "I will stick to my policy of letting this idiot wind blow over." That's good advice for anyone still listening to the McCain campaign's increasingly reckless ad hominem attacks. Sadly, that wind is likely to keep blowing for four more days.

Alas, the only "wind" here is the flatulence escaping from the corpse of American journalism, a once-great institution, now eagerly turned great prostitute, that has bled out all its credibility while scrambling after a basket of Obama hopey-changiness.

— Beldar

Posted by Beldar at 04:33 AM in 2008 Election, Mainstream Media, Obama, Politics (2008) | Permalink

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