Loyola insists that Phares' long history with the LF is of no concern because he was part of an organization "committed to resisting Syria's and Hezbollah’s domination of Lebanon (fully in line with longstanding U.S. policy)." Shorter Loyola: It doesn't matter if an organization committed atrocities, as long as it was on the right side. I'm sure the Arab and Muslim countries the US has to deal with will completely understand the distinction should Phares be placed in a high-level position in a future Republican administration.
That's what's really at stake here. If Romney wins, Phares is likely to get a high-level position advising Romney's Mideast policy. Romney wants to help the Arab Spring succeed, which is a worthy goal. It's also a goal surely to be set back by any affiliation with Phares. The idea that the Arab world's democratic forces would embrace a man tied to sectarian massacres of Muslims, and who argued that Christian Arabs are a different ethnic group than Muslim Arabs, doesn't survive a second's worth of scrutiny. It would be a millstone around the Romney administration, the fodder for a million conspiracy theories, and a slam dunk for the Assads and Ahmadinejads of the region.
Phares is fundamentally a problem for Romney. But Romney's committed too many conservative heresies. To sacrifice a leading practitioner of the demogogic "counter-jihad" hysteria would be another mark against him among his base. Can Romney dig himself out of this quagmire?