This week the McCain ticket has tried to tenuously connect Barack Obama to Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, a leading scholar of Middle Eastern studies, who served on the University of Chicago faculty with Obama.
Sarah Palin said yesterday: "This is important because his associate, Rashid Khalidi . . . in addition to being a political ally of Barack Obama, he's a former spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization." But while Barack Obama was acquainted with Khalidi (who denies ever being the PLO spokesman), John McCain led an organization that gave Khalidi money for research.
While John McCain served as chairman of the International Republican Institute during the 1990s, he oversaw grants to Khalidi's Palestinian research center, including one grant for half a million dollars. To see how McCain is trying to push a one-sided version of the story,
This week, McCain demanded the LA Times release a videotape of a Khalidi's going-away party attended by Obama in 2003. While the newspaper described the event, saying Khalidi praised Obama, it would not release the tape because it promised the source it would not.
By repeating the dangerous-sounding name "Rashid Khalidi" paired with Barack Obama's, the McCain camp could reinforce voters' unfounded fears that Barack Obama is a friend of terrorists, or that he is Muslim. In fact a new poll shows 23 percent of Texans believe Obama is Muslim. These attempts present another example of how guilt-by-association attacks can be misleading, and hypocritical.