I didn't expect to post on this again, but the controversy over the comments (almost certainly falsely) attributed to McCain adviser Bob Kagan that Jordan should be the Palestinian state continues to rock Jordanian politics despite his denial and has moved up into the wider Arab media. Those reports engaged and enraged almost every actor in Jordanian politics, from the Muslim Brotherhood to the Jordanian Parliament to the King himself. It seems virtually certain that Kagan didn't make the remarks, but the fallout continues to roil public opinion in a crucial American ally. Why doesn't McCain just issue a strong statement denying the reports and explaining his position on the "Jordan is Palestine" question, and put an end to it?
Some Jordanian and Arab commenters have begun to focus more on the implications for the credibility of Arab media in the incident. Why, asks al-Arabiya director Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed, were so many Jordanians inside and outside of the government ready to believe an inflammatory statement posted on a blog? Why didn't they check with the McCain campaign or the American embassy first, before running their stories? Batir Wardum wonders why people didn't look at the source, which he considers hostile to Jordan, or try to find evidence that the alleged talk took place before running with the story. For those interested in the problems of public diplomacy and strategic communication, this is a pretty rich case study... as different public spheres interact at breakneck speed, rumors spread faster than governments or campaigns can hope to respond, and political dynamics outrace fact checking.
But other Jordanian and Arab pundits and politicians still want to know what McCain and his advisers actually think about the substantive issue. Regardless of what Kagan did or didn't say, does McCain agree or disagree with the argument held by some on the Israeli right that the solution to the Palestinian problem lies across the Jordan river? If he does, he should say so and explain why. If he doesn't, his campaign should say so, clearly and publicly, to put an end to the controversy. I doubt this has much significance to the campaign over here, but such a statement - or the absence of such a statement - could have some real impact over there.