Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Obama's Position on NAFTA, and his Honesty in Doubt

Either someone in Obama's camp or in the Canadian Consulate in Chicago, is not telling the truth about what went down in a meeting between Obama's economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, and Canada's consul general in Chicago, Georges Rioux,
a Canadian official either made a mistake in recording, and/or misinterpreted what transpired at the 40 minute Feb. 8 meeting.

A quick summary of what this story concerns.
Yesterday Hillary Clinton's campaign ran an ad which suggested that Barack Obama flip-flopped on his stance on NAFTA, i.e., that he would renegotiate it. The ad says he (his campaign) told Canadian Consulate officials that his words were just about political positioning rather than a clear articulation of policy plans. Obama and his economic adviser denies that such words were said to the Canadian Consul. This is significant because particularly in the state of Ohio where NAFTA has negatively affected the economy, Obama has vowed to fix it once elected.
(Also see previous post Mar. 3rd).

The only piece of evidence in this potentially campaign busting twist is a 1300 word memo written by a Canadian offical, Joseph DeMora, who was in attendance at the meeting.

Newsweek has a timeline of related PR responses that allows the reader to arrive at their own conclusions as to what is going on in the Obama/NAFTA story. Here's a key piece of what DeMora wrote that is at the center of this controversy:

... Noting anxiety among many U.S. domestic audiences about the U.S. economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign. He 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 plans.

This memo was also widely circulated among the Canadian government.

Goolsbee responded by saying,
He's not quoting me. . . . I certainly did not use that phrase in any way. . . . In no possible way was I inferring that he [Obama] was going to introduce any policies that you should ignore and he had no intention of enacting.

The Newsweek page notes that, "It (Associated Press) quoted Obama spokesman Bill Burton as saying that Goolsbee was not representing the campaign during the visit and was not authorized to share any messages from the campaign".

No audio recording exist of the Feb. 8 meeting of Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee and the Canadian Consulate.

So there is no hard proof that Goolsbee actually said it, but it leaves doubt. One would assume that a potential U.S. economic adviser and his candidate would be very close, on the same page that is. If Goolsbee did not suggest that renogotiating NAFTA was just political rhetoric, then the recorder DeMora either interpreted a conversation incorrectly, misheard it, or was being malicious. Otherwise, how could he write such words unless they were mentioned by Obama's adviser? Something's odd here.

If Obama has really been bluffing about changing NAFTA just to get Ohio's hurting workers' votes, then what else might he be bluffing about? And, what kind of President would Canada potentially be dealing with? It would sound like one who is more of the same.

He is leading in delegates at the moment but can't afford to be seen in another negative light, like his questionable relationship with slum lord Tony Rezko. There may be more revelations on the NAFTA item, but right now it seems to cast a shadow of doubt over Obama's honesty, and/or his campaign adviser's.

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