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Rubin Accuses McCain of Hypocrisy

Updated 6:24 p.m.
This morning, James P. Rubin, an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International Affairs who was formerly the State Department's chief spokesman during the Clinton administration, penned an Op-Ed in The Washington Post recalling an interview he did with Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain two years ago, in which McCain took a position with regard to doing business with Hamas that Rubin says makes his present attacks on Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's Middle East policy positions hypocritical. Wrote Rubin:

...given his own position on Hamas, McCain is the last politician who should be attacking Obama. Two years ago, just after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections, I interviewed McCain for the British network Sky News's "World News Tonight" program. Here is the crucial part of our exchange:

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." ...

Given that exchange, the new John McCain might say that Hamas should be rooting for the old John McCain to win the presidential election. The old John McCain, it appears, was ready to do business with a Hamas-led government, while both Clinton and Obama have said that Hamas must change its policies toward Israel and terrorism before it can have diplomatic relations with the United States.

The column set off a flurry of responses, including a sharp rebuke from the McCain campaign.

"There should be no confusion, John McCain has always believed that serious engagement would require mandatory conditions and Hamas must change itself fundamentally -- renounce violence, abandon its goal of eradicating Israel and accept a two-state solution," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds in a statement. "John McCain's position is clear and has always been clear, the President of the United States should not unconditionally meet with leaders of Iran, Hamas or Hezbollah. Barack Obama has made his position equally clear, and has pledged to meet unconditionally with Iran's leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the leaders of other rogue regimes, which shows incredibly dangerous and weak judgment."

The Huffington Post this morning unearthed video of Rubin's interview with McCain, which can be viewed here. By evening, however, the Republican National Committee had provided a more complete video of McCain's interview and 2006 remarks on Hamas, viewable here, which it said proved that "Jamie Rubin lied."

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 16, 2008; 12:42 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , John McCain , Today at The Post  
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