Monday, March 03, 2008

A bit on the NAFTA Obama Fallout

A few days ago, people were running a story that said that Senator Obama had met with Canadian economic officials, and told them he wasn't *really* against, NAFTA - he was just saying that to get elected.

The Obama camp denied, Canandian government denied, it was over.

Then it turns out that Austan Goolsbee, an economist with the Obama campaign, did meet with some Canadian officials. And, according to someone's memos in the meeting that got leaked to the press, Goolsbee is the one that said that the anti-NAFTA talk wasn't that big of a deal, don't get all concerned.

Now, people are freaking out (24 hours to an election? Hmmm - interesting timing, like the plagurism stuff from two weeks ago). And I'm trying to figure out why.

1. Obama has never said he would repeal NAFTA - but would modify it so that US labor and environmental interests were equal across all three countries.

2. The memo was not written by Goolsbee, it was not a direct quote - it was someone else's impressions.

3. Even in those impressions, the memo reads:

On NAFTA, Goolsbee suggested that Obama is less about fundamentally changing the agreement and more in favor of strengthening/clarifying language on labor mobility and environment and trying to establish these as more "core" principles of the agreement...

Which is consistent with item #1. Obama isn't out to throw out NAFTA - but modify it.

So - what's the uproar? This is like when Obama said he would pursue an agreement about public financing. He didn't say "I will absolutely accept public financing", it was "I will pursue an agreement on public financing". But somehow, even saying that much is a big deal to the McCain people. Or how he said he's pursue bin Laden into Pakistan, and authorize missions if Pakistan didn't support - and suddenly that became "Obama wants to bomb Pakistan" by Clinton and McCain.

So am I missing something, or is this a molehill people are trying to scale like it was Everest?

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