23 September 2008

23 September 2008 - Did Obama oppose the anti-Ahmadinejad rally itself?

Conventional wisdom has it that the Democrats pulled the plug on Hillary Clinton's participation in yesterday's anti-Ahmadinejad rally because of the potential spectacle of Clinton sharing a podium with Republican phenomenon Sarah Palin, who has replaced her as the standard-bearer for women's hopes in the U.S. elections. The party and the Obama campaign then insisted that Palin herself be disinvited; it's only fair, etc.

The truth may be even starker. The Obama campaign may have opposed the rally simply because Obama supports direct talks with Ahmadinejad, and might actually look favorably on Ahmadinejad's arrival in New York, at least if he means what he says about diplomatic engagement. The probable fear in the Obama campaign was that Palin would use the occasion to attack Obama's position (her undelivered speech reveals she would have stuck to the issues.)

Some protesters did, indeed, take that opportunity, and reminded America that Obama favors talks with a man who has pledged to eliminate Israel. From Ha'aretz:

"One protester held up a sign reading 'JEWS AGAINST OBAMA & AHMADINEJAD." Another, identified by the Forward newspaper as Bill Rubin, stood apart from the crowd waving an Israeli flag and a sign that said, "Dems hate Sarah Palin more than they hate Islamo-fascists.'"

Tough language. But the problem here is not the opinions of the demonstrators. It is the tactics of Barack Obama and the Democrats, who preferred to suppress Palin's right to speak--as the New York Times quashed John McCain's right of reply--rather than opposing Ahmadinejad's speech at the United Nations.

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