Former president Jimmy Carter plans to meet next week in Damascus with Khaled Meshal, the head of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, in a direct rebuke of the Bush administration's campaign to isolate it.
The disclosure of Carter's plans by the Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat and subsequent confirmation by sources familiar with his itinerary instantly placed the campaigns of Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in a political bind.
The campaign of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive Republican nominee, was quick to blast Carter's plans and called on both Obama and Clinton to condemn the meeting with what the State Department lists as a terrorist group.
Both Clinton and Obama issued statements with milder language, saying they "disagreed" or did "not agree" with Carter's plans.
Carter's views of the Middle East attracted controversy last year because a book he wrote included tough criticism of Israel's policies. Indeed, a source close to Carter said that the former president favors Obama but that he has decided not to endorse Obama publicly or formally because he fears it would contribute to hostility toward Obama among Jewish Democrats.
Now I'm going to be honest and speak my mind about ol' Jim's decision to fly over to Damascus to meet with Khaled Meshaal, a terrorist in a suit: his intentions are good. Yes, I believe that Jimmy Carter actually thinks this will lead to progress. After all, people like him believe that Hamas is just misguided and has simply chosen the wrong path. We've seen this before...let us not forget Dennis Kucinich and Nancy Pelosi's adventures in Syria last year, which was a total rejection of not only the Bush Administration's policies, but better judgement and the difference between right and wrong.
In the end, a visit with a former U.S. President will only help Hamas' PR campaign. Before he goes on his trip, I hope that Jimmy Carter has read up on every single attack carried out by Hamas and the savage acts against innocent civilians, both Israeli and Palestinians, it has committed. I also hope he has watched the propaganda videos that on Hamas TV and Iranian hate television that glorify terrorism and encourage young children to detonate themselves in the name of a religion that has been betrayed.
I would be appropriate if the former president has all of that on his mind when his plane flies over the skyline of Damascus and is welcomed by a regime that has hosted a variety of thugs and murderers from all across the Muslim world.