The problem with fairness?

THE PROBLEM WITH FAIRNESS?…. I’ve been encouraged by reports that former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell may join the Obama administration as a special diplomatic envoy to the Middle East. The Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman is less enthused, and doesn’t realize how foolish this sounds.

“Sen. Mitchell is fair. He’s been meticulously even-handed,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “But the fact is, American policy in the Middle East hasn’t been ‘even handed’ — it has been supportive of Israel when it felt Israel needed critical U.S. support.”

“So I’m concerned,” Foxman continued. “I’m not sure the situation requires that kind of approach in the Middle East.”

Mitchell has demonstrated repeatedly an ability to be an accomplished and fair negotiator. Most notably, he helped negotiate the peace in Northern Ireland, because he came to the table as an even-handed mediator, with credibility as someone who can act in good faith.

To hear Foxman tell it, that’s a bad quality to have in a U.S. envoy to the Middle East.

It’s one thing to think this; it’s another to admit it out loud. As Matt Yglesias noted, “[N]obody comes out against fairness.”