MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe on Tuesday said, "The experiment of democracy, of untrammeled democracy inside the Middle East is most clearly demonstrated by the Palestinian authority with Hamas taking power in the Gaza strip."
Such transpired in the same lengthy "Hardball" segment wherein Chris Matthews called Sarah Palin "a cuckoo clock" and Newt Gingrich "a mortal enemy to our civilization" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: And Chris, there’s a third came here, which I think Senator Graham kind of represents here, which is conservative opinion, which is more realpolitik, more realistic in saying, Let’s deal with the world as it is out there. And there’s that tension that played out between the conservatives and the neo-cons through the Bush years.
What’s remarkable is seeing the sort of conspiracy side of this take ahold Newt Gingrich who is a self-styled historian or student of history, making some of the same kind of mistakes. You cannot see this region, never mind the rest of the world, purely in terms of the post-9/11 American political framework. You cannot just project out everything from the Bush era. And if you are, at least going to study the Bush era properly. I mean, the experiment of democracy, of untrammeled democracy inside the Middle East is most clearly demonstrated by the Palestinian authority with Hamas taking power in the Gaza strip.
For those unfamiliar with the term, untrammeled means "not limited or restricted; unrestrained."
If that's how Wolffe sees Gaza at this point, it is him making political and historical mistakes, for Hamas has been preventing new elections in Gaza that could result in it being tossed out.
As Commentary's Noah Pollak wrote in October 2009:
[One man, one vote, one time] is the oft-repeated formulation that describes the problem with the participation of Islamist and terrorist groups in elections. They pretend to be committed to democratic politics so long as democratic politics provide a vehicle for them to take power. But the moment elections no longer favor them, they no longer favor elections.
This has been the case in Gaza since Hamas took over. As the New York Times reported Tuesday:
The Palestinian Authority announced on Tuesday that it would hold delayed local elections on July 9. The vote was originally scheduled for last summer, but it was postponed by disagreements over candidates within the Fatah movement...Elections were supposed to be held in both the West Bank and Gaza, but Hamas, which rules in Gaza, has said it would not allow them to take place. No election has been held in either territory since 2006.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Hamas is still preventing these elections to occur in Gaza:
The Palestinian Authority announced on Tuesday that it plans to hold municipal elections on July 9. Hamas responded by declaring that it won’t allow the vote to take place in the Gaza Strip...Hamas’s decision to boycott the elections means that they would take place only in the West Bank.
Is this what Wolffe considers "untrammeled democracy" - when the party in power is preventing elections?
*****Update: Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin responded to my e-mail request for comment...
I don't know Mr. Wolffe well enough to know what he means. Let's remember two things. First, the decision to allow a terrorist group that is dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel and that rejects democratic values was a grave error, an unmitigated disaster for Israel, for the PA and for the region. There were those within the Bush administration who warned against this but they did not carry the day. Second, prior to 2006 when the Bush administration was studiously trying to promote democratization - that is to expand freedom and help support institutions that would form the building blocks of secular democratic government - the left was no where to be seen. The left punditocracy and their kindred souls in the Obama White House have showed nothing but contempt for the Bush freedom agenda. It is rather poor form then to pop up now to instruct us on the topic of democracy in the Middle East.