Mccain's Hamas Flip-flop

by Josh Patashnik | May 16, 2008

James Rubin recalls a conversation with John McCain, circa 2006:

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."

Now, in fairness to McCain, this is only an implicit call for negotiation with Hamas ("one way or another" can mean a variety of things). But this response goes far beyond anything Clinton or Obama is proposing, and seems pretty imprudent considering that this is still a terrorist group we're talking about. (Unlike Jamie, I think it's pretty easy to draw a distinction between a state that sponsors terrorism as a tactic and a terrorist group that wins one election somewhere.) Here's hoping someone in the intrepid press corps will ask McCain to explain what he meant back then, and why he's apparently changed his tune.

--Josh Patashnik

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/mccains-hamas-flip-flop