Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Obama: Panderer Par Excellence

Original Link: http://wwsword.blogspot.com/2008/06/obama-panderer-par-excellence.html

Prior to the March 4, 2008 Ohio primary, Obama was exposed as a panderer par excellence when he bashed NAFTA in front of workers, especially blaming Hillary Clinton for the trade agreement and its fallout, but behind the public's back dispatched senior economic advisor Austan Goolsbee to meet with Canadian officials in Chicago to reassure them that the senator's rhetoric was political maneuvering and not to be taken as an actual policy position.

During the February 8, 2008 meeting with Canadian officials, Goolsbee explained that, to quote from the memo of the meeting, the primary campaign has been necessarily domestically focused, particularly in the Midwest, and that much of the rhetoric that may be perceived to be protectionist is more reflective of political maneuvering than policy.

The memo states:
Noting anxiety among many US domestic audiences about the US economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign.

[Goolsbee] cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy p1ans.
And this:
As obama continues to court the economic populist vote, particularly in upcoming contests like Ohio, we are likely to see a continuation of some of the messaging that has not played in Canada's favour, but this should continue to be viewed in the context in which it is delivered.

In the debate just prior to voting in the Ohio primary, the moderators (the late Tim Russert was one of them), failed to call out Obama on his pandering. In fact, the moderators let him freely spin his position on NAFTA. Opposition to NAFTA, Obama asserted, is "something that I have been consistent about." He said,

I have to say, Tim [Russert], with respect to my position on this, when I ran for the United States Senate, the Chicago Tribune, which was adamantly pro-NAFTA, noted that, in their endorsement of me, they were endorsing me despite my strong opposition to NAFTA.

He added that "as president, what I want to be is an advocate on behalf of workers."

That Obama was pandering was confirmed this week after Fortune magazine published an interview with the candidate titled "Obama: NAFTA Not So Bad After All" (June 18, 2008). The interviewer reminds Obama that he had called NAFTA "a big mistake," even "devastating," to which Obama replies, "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified." Obama continues, "Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don't exempt myself." The Fortune magazine story concludes that, despite promising to invoke the six-month opt-out clause to force concessions from Canada, Obama does not believe in unilaterally reopening NAFTA.

Recall that Obama's anti-NAFTA rhetoric greatly contributed to the momentum he was enjoying going into the Ohio primary, especially his game-changing victory in Wisconsin. The Obama campaign repeatedly denied that Goolsbee was put up to the meeting with Canadian officials in Chicago. However, Obama now says publicly what Goolsbee said to Canadian officials then, which is essentially 'I didn't mean what I said about NAFTA when speaking to workers. I was pandering to them to get their votes. Now that I'm the nominee, I can speak more frankly about my support for NAFTA.'

What is it that Obama keeps saying about bringing a new style of politics, one that doesn't play the same old Washington games? However he puts it, it just rhetoric.

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