First and more immediately, I'm encouraged by the reports of Jimmy Carter's meetings in Damascus with Khaled Meshal, a leader of Hamas, which has had the result of an unofficial Hamas recognition of Israel's right to exist, which counts as a minor, yet important, diplomatic breakthrough. Conservatives everywhere are lambasting Carter for meeting with leaders of a terrorist organization and giving the impression that the U.S. government is shifting its official policies, but they're forgetting some important things, like the fact that Yasser Arafat and the P.L.O. were also considered to be terrorists (and indeed, rightly so) for years, not recognizing Israel's right to exist until 1988. But that shift led, eventually, to the Oslo accords of 1993 and the current roadmap to peace.
The fact of the matter is that Hamas, like it or not, represents a majority of the Palestinian population (or at least a very sizable portion), and they govern the Gaza Strip; regardless of their tactics, it is currently impossible to make any progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue without including them. So a backdoor movement via Carter is really the only way progress can be made, officially, further down the road. I expect the next Secretary of State, Democratic or Republican, to make good progress in this area (an official recognition by Hamas of the State of Israel and repudiation of terrorism) once the idiots currently in charge (Bush, Cheney) are gone.
In other news, in last week's Democratic debate in Pennsylvania, I was most struck by this analysis, (sorry, it's a few days old) saying that the mainstream media has by now been thoroughly trained by the right-wing pundits to do their job for them - every time they asked Clinton or Obama a question about 'electability' and "how will you respond to these charges in November?" it's just a convenient shortcut for the GOP. It's the equivalent of having a news outfit asking a candidate, "these stories about your confusion over whether or not you have stopped beating your wife, how do you address them?" I'm sure that if McCain was still debating somebody we'd be getting dumb questions about his age and other such nonissues, too, which just indicates the death of actual political journalism in this country.