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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Blame Canada?

More accurate to blame Hillary:

Last week, the Conservative Canadian government interfered in the Democratic primary process by misrepresenting a communication between Obama economic advisor Austin Goolsby and a low-level Canadian official concerning Obama's position on NAFTA.

This CBC video report posted below reveals the Canadian government's mis-statement, and how John McCain and Hillary Clinton repeated that lie in nearly identical language - as though Hillary was running to be McCain's vice-president.

Paul Loeb reports:


As the Ohio primary approached, Obama was steadily closing what a month earlier had been a 20-point lead in the polls. He pointed out that the NAFTA trade agreement was a centerpiece of Bill Clinton's term and that it cost massive numbers of industrial jobs. Instead of creating a trade-fueled boom, NAFTA helped hollow out America's industrial base, with over 200,000 manufacturing jobs disappearing in Ohio alone since the 2000 election. Even Republicans I talked with while calling the state just before the primary made clear that they thought it was a disaster.

Given these sentiments, Hillary chose not to defend her husband's actions, but instead claimed Obama was distorting her position because she'd privately opposed the agreement at the time, had "long been a critic" and now similarly supported stronger labor and environmental standards. Echoing her reinvention on the Iraq War, these claims were flat-out nonsense. As David Sirota points out, she'd praised NAFTA repeatedly in public settings from the time of its inception, even praising corporations for mounting "a very effective business effort" on behalf of its passage. And as Obama highlighted their contrasting positions and approaches on this and other issues, he was gaining in the polls.

Then, on Feb 27, the Canadian network CTV reported that even as Obama was publicly attacking Bill's role in NAFTA, and arguing for a drastic overhaul, he'd had key economic advisor Austin Goolsby arrange a meeting with the Canadian ambassador where Goolsby reassured them that this was all just "political positioning," pandering for campaign trail. The likely source of the anonymous Valerie Plame-style leak was Ian Brodie, Chief of Staff, to a key Bush ally, right-wing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and the US media jumped all over it as proof of Obama's hypocrisy. The Canadian embassy denied the story and Obama also said it was false. A follow-up March 3rd leak then sent a supposed memo summarizing the meeting to the major US media outlets, quoting Goolsby as saying Obama's statements were more "political positioning than the clear articulation of policy plans." Clinton made the controversy a centerpiece of her home stretch speeches and ads, saying "You come to Ohio and you both give speeches that are very critical of NAFTA and you send out misleading and false information about my position regarding NAFTA and then we find out that your chief economic advisor has gone to a foreign government and basically done the old wink wink, don't pay any attention this is just political rhetoric." She even ran a radio ad that misleadingly presenting itself as a news story, which concluded, "As Senator Obama was telling one story to Ohio, his campaign was telling a very different story to Canada."

John McCain similarly attacked Obama for the presumed contradiction in his stand, saying "I don't think it's appropriate to go to Ohio and tell people one thing while your aide is calling the Canadian Ambassador and telling him something else. I certainly don't think that's straight talk." The week before, key Clinton ally, Machinist's Union head Tom Buffenbarger used recycled language from ads the right-wing Club For Growth ran against Howard Dean by dismissing Obama supporters as "latte-drinking, Prius-driving, Birkenstock-wearing, trust fund babies." He now attacked Obama again by saying, "Working families cannot trust a candidate who telegraphs his real position to a foreign government and then dissembles in a nationally televised debate."

These attacks unquestionably made a difference. They flipped voter perceptions on an issue where Obama should have had a key advantage. In 1994, union, environmental, and social justice activists were so angry at Clinton's staking all his political chips to pass NAFTA that many sat out that critical election, helping lead to Gingrich's win. Now Clinton ended up getting a majority the 55 percent of Ohio voters who expressed a sense "that trade takes jobs away," a majority of those worried about their family's economic situation, and a majority of union members, whom Obama won in his recent victories. She won a 10 percent plurality in a state where Ohioans overwhelmingly picked the economy as the top issue. And she won overwhelmingly with late-breaking voters, the opposite of practically all of Obama's other campaigns. Most important, by casting doubt on Obama's integrity, the cornerstone of his campaign, they made him seem like just another hack politician who'd say anything to win. This gave the supposed scandal a probable impact in Texas and Rhode Island as well, even though NAFTA was less of a central issue there.




Indeed, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff, Ian Brodie, was heard to say "Someone from (Hillary) Clinton's campaign is telling the embassy to take it with a grain of salt. . . That someone called us and told us not to worry." In other words, the quote was flipped - from Clinton camp to Obama - and used to defeat him in a state where he likely would have won. Karl Rove must be very proud of Mrs. Clinton. . .

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1 Comments:

Blogger Angie said...

Urh...Aaaghhh...%*^&@$ !(^#@$...Oh heck, I don't have ANYTHING nice to say here, so I won't. Eeeee...clenching teeth...Fine. Yes, Rove must be proud. That was nice right?

title="comment permalink">March 07, 2008 2:08 PM  

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