The Washington Post reports this morning that the meeting is scheduled for next week:
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.
Which won’t get any better once those skeptical Jewish Dems read this piece.
The problem with Carter’s book wasn’t just because the book included “tough criticism” of Israel’s policies. It’s because it contained gross factual and historical distortions, so much so that 14 Carter Center members resigned in protest.
For anyone out there who still thinks there’s a shred of decency left in Carter in terms of how he conducts himself on the world stage in his role as a former president, this post should dissuade you of that notion. Everytime you think he couldn’t get any worse, he does.