Saturday, June 21, 2008

Trade Flip Is A Flop

We know now what Barack Obama means by "change." Campaigning in Ohio in February, the Senator blasted Senator Hillary Clinton for supporting NAFTA, saying he opposed that agreement "and other bad trade deals." Yet, interviewed by Fortune magazine this week, Obama flushed that plank down the memory hole:
[T]he presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn't want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.

"Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified," he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake," despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.

Does that mean his rhetoric was overheated and amplified? "Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don't exempt myself," he answered. . .

In February, as the campaign moved into the Rust Belt, both candidates vowed to invoke a six-month opt-out clause ("as a hammer," in Obama's words) to pressure Canada and Mexico to make concessions.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called that threat a mistake, and other leaders abroad expressed worries about their trade deals. Leading House Democrats, including Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, distanced themselves from the candidates.

Now, however, Obama says he doesn't believe in unilaterally reopening NAFTA.
The Republican National Committee documents the Democrat's flip-flop in what Gateway Pundit calls a "stunning" new ad; I've reprinted the text below the video:

BARACK OBAMA: I believe in free trade, and as somebody who lived overseas, who has family overseas, I’ve seen what’s happened in terms of rising living standards around the globe, and that’s a good thing for America, it’s good for our national security. I don’t think NAFTA has been good for America, and I never have. I believe in Free Trade. . . . that’s a good thing for America, it’s good for our national security. I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage, to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced. I believe in Free Trade. . . .But what I refuse to accept is that we have to sign trade deals like the South Korean agreement. That’s why I opposed NAFTA, that’s why I voted against CAFTA, that’s why it didn’t make sense to normalize trade relations with China without asking more from China. I will oppose the Columbia Free Trade Agreement.

SCREEN: “[Obama] said the United State [sic] should work with the World Trade Organization and pursue deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the country must be more aggressive about protecting American interests.” (Christopher Wills, “Senate Candidates Speak on Farm, Trade Issues,” The Associated Press – 9/9/04)

BARACK OBAMA: That’s a good thing for America, It’s good for our national security. I want to be very clear, I don’t think NAFTA has been good for America, and I never have.

SCREEN: What does he really believe? Barack Obama--Not Ready To Lead
BTW, Obama's attempted counter to the Fortune magazine story both ignores his Ohio anti-NAFTA flyer and fails to explain what else he could have meant by acknowledging prior "overheated and amplified" rhetoric.

During the 2004 campaign, President Bush memorably pasted Senator Kerry for tilting "whichever way the wind blows," especially in the famous "windsurfing" spot. Might the same approach work in '08? Along with his "lame" about-face forgoing public campaign financing, Obama's proving to have few principles. So, as Instapundit says about Obama and trade, "He's certainly vulnerable on this issue."

(via Gateway Pundit)

1 comment:

OBloodyhell said...

Money, not morality, is the principle ccommerce of civilized nations

-- Thomas Jefferson --