Like one of our commenters said in the Headlines item, if they’re good enough for the church bulletin they should be good enough for Jimmy Carter.

“Senator Obama does not agree with President Carter’s decision to go forward with this meeting because he does not support negotiations with Hamas until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and abide by past agreements,” a spokesman for the Obama campaign said. “As President, Obama will negotiate directly with the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.”

Does Obama lose face if Carter ignores him? He’s the most powerful Democrat in the country now; as the frontrunner for the nomination, in theory he should have enough cachet to bring him into line. I’m guessing no since Jimbo shed his earthly Democratic form last year when he became an Elder&#153, thus making him answerable only to God. The fact that no one’s sure how sincere Obama’s support for Israel is also works in his favor here. Doubtless his Palestinian fans are reading this statement as having been issued with a wink and a nudge, crafted to preserve his electability by pandering to Israel’s Democratic supporters but in no sense heartfelt and unlikely to be taken as such by Carter.

Re-read the statement, though. Until now I always thought his objection to Hamas was purely technical: He’ll meet with any head of state, and since they’re not the head of the Palestinian state, they get no meeting. Now he’s added some substantive conditions — all of which, incidentally, apply equally to Iran, whom he is willing to meet with. Why the disparate treatment? And why, as John Bolton asks below, does he think he’s going to talk Iran into giving up on nukes when five years of meeting with the Europeans haven’t achieved that? Is it just his own wicked awesome Messiah mojo that’s going to light up Ahmadinejad’s eyes? “Hey, Mahmoud? I’m the Mahdi.”

Update: What a tool.

Obama explained his position on March 3rd in San Antonio as well.

When questioned by ABC’s David Wright if Hamas fell into the category of meeting with adversaries, Obama said no, “It does not include Hamas, they are not heads of state and they don’t recognize Israel. You can’t negotiate with somebody who doesn’t recognize the right of the country to exist. So I understand why Israel doesn’t meet with Hamas.”

Bush meets with nations that don’t recognize Israel — the Saudis, first and foremost — but at least he’s not proposing that recognition as a litmus test which he then proceeds to violate. Does Obama know that Iran doesn’t recognize them either? If so, why does that disqualify Hamas from meeting with him but not Ahmadinejad?