Yesterday, the McCain campaign held a press call trying to make an issue of former U.S. ambassador to Israel/current Barack Obama adviser Daniel Kurtzer’s attending a legal conference in Damascus. McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann and Ru9y Giul1an1 both did their best to spin Kurtzer’s presence in Syria in the most sinister way possible, but unfortunately for Team McCain, the only traction the story has gotten thus far has focused on reporter Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency being cut off when he confronted Scheunemann and Giuliani on their history of lobbying for various foreign interests.
The McCain campaign’s own incompetence appears for the moment to have thrown a wrench into their attempt to throw dirt on the reputation and judgment of a respected former ambassador to Israel. Scheunemann and Giuliani strongly implied that Kurtzer was involved in “covert” negotiations with the Syrian regime on Obama’s behalf, when in fact all Kurtzer appears to have done was voice his support for continuing Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations. Joe Klein writes that “the McCain campaign and its neoconservative allies have expanded their foolish bellicosity to Syria and are now criticizing a sometime Obama adviser for…saying that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the next U.S. President to promote an Israel-Syrian peace accord”:
In this case McCain and the neocons–with their extremely warped view of Israel’s best interests–are considerably to their right of the Israeli government, which has been negotiating with the Syrians under Turkish auspices.
Heather Hurlburt adds:
When the McCain campaign goes after an Orthodox Jew, former dean of Yeshiva U., career diplomat who was the Bush Administration’s ambassador to Israel on 9-11, was caricatured in anti-Semitic cartoons in the Cairo press during his tenure as Ambassador to Egypt, where he bravely was a public face of Orthodoxy, and is the Commissioner of the Israeli Baseball League (you can’t make this stuff up), for doing something the Israeli government is already doing (talking to Syrians), will someone please tell me exactly how this country is supposed to have a diplomatic establishment?
As Steve Benen and Max Bergmann both note, John McCain was for engagement with Syria before he was against it. Currently, the only sort of US-Syria relationship that John McCain supports involves rendering CIA detainees to Syria to be tortured.