Peace, Love, and Rock-n-Roll from a proud Lefty, Liberal, Socialist Hippie

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Rattling the Keys to the Castle

Now I kinda like Bill Clinton. I mean, as a Democrat, I was certainly happy to see him replace that “thousand points of light” guy. However, I have long maintained that Clinton’s greatest appeal was his charisma and charm and not so much his approach to public policy. From his initial back peddling on gay rights with the ridicules “don’t ask – don’t tell” policy to the co-opting of the Republican agenda against “welfare queens”, he was determined to prove he could straddle that white line without getting hit by the moving traffic in either lane. Even the credit that he gets for the booming economy which led to the great budget surplus was probably more attributable to the Internet boom of the 90s than to any fiscal policy instituted by his administration. Of all the mis-guided Clinton policy initiatives however, NAFTA and the birth of “Free” Trade has to sit head and shoulders above the rest. By almost every measure, it was this shift on trade policy that was the single biggest contributor to the loss of both houses of congress (and, if you believe W actually won Florida, the Whitehouse) by the Democrats beginning with the mid-term elections of 1994. All the talk about the “Gingrich (Contract With America) Revolution” aside, it was this abandonment of principles by the Democrats on the issue of protecting American jobs and, therefore, Labor that led to a massive decline in support of the “NAFTA Democrats” in that election.

So what does that have to do with the current situation? As I posted yesterday, there still seems to linger with some Democrats in Congress the notion that we should continue down this path of selling out the American worker. While you might think that Senator Baucus (D-MT) might be preaching to an empty church on the subject of “Fast Tracking”, enter none other than Bill Clinton himself. In catching up on my blog reading, I see this from David Postman at the Seattle Times:

Senate Democrats get Clinton (Bill) pep talk
Posted by David Postman at 05:59 PM

Former President Bill Clinton urged Senate Democrats today not to give up on globalization and not to let growing opposition to free trade fracture the party.”

Again, I like Bill but I think he would do us all a favor if he would stick to PR work and stay away from the policy details. From Postman:

” Much has been made of shifts in the House makeup that augur changes in trade policies: DeLay is gone, Republicans are out of power and more than two dozen new fair-trade Democrats are ready to take the place of free-trade Republicans. But the changes in the Senate are just as sweeping, and perhaps more significant. Of the six Republican incumbents who lost to Democrats on November 7, five were steady free-trade voters. All were replaced by lawmakers — Brown in Ohio, Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Jim Webb in Virginia and Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode Island — who argued that past trade agreements have failed to deliver on the promise of more prosperity for U.S. workers and farmers. In addition, the seat held by Vermont Independent Jim Jeffords, who voted for CAFTA and other trade deals, was taken by Bernie Sanders, who for more than a decade has been one of the steadiest and savviest critics of the free-trade agenda.”

The new Democratic majority would be well served to give Bill his due as a respected former president and figurehead for the party. However they would do themselves a big favor by listening to the people on matters of policy and refer to the paragraph above when in doubt on the matter of trade.

Chad (The Left) Shue

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