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Monday, March 3, 2008

The Canada Connection

posted by on March 3 at 16:15 PM

In addition to the return of Rezko, there’s another storyline that’s been giving Obama trouble lately.

To begin at the beginning: While Obama has been strongly criticizing NAFTA on the campaign trail, especially in Ohio where many voters blame the agreement for costing their state jobs, Canadian media recently reported that an Obama aide privately told the Canadian government not to take Obama’s NAFTA criticisms seriously.

Within the last month, a top staff member for Obama’s campaign telephoned Michael Wilson, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, and warned him that Obama would speak out against NAFTA, according to Canadian sources.

The staff member reassured Wilson that the criticisms would only be campaign rhetoric, and should not be taken at face value.

The Obama campaign has strongly pushed back against this story, but it acknowledged today that Obama’s senior economic adviser, Austan Goolsbee, had indeed spoken to a Canada’s consul general in Chicago about Obama’s NAFTA rhetoric. There’s even a memo written by a consulate staffer about the meeting. It says, among other things, that Goolsbee “cautioned that this [NAFTA] messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.”

The Obama campaign says Goolsbee’s remarks were misconstrued, and Obama himself said the same today in a reportedly heated press availability. The Canadian government has issued a press release saying something similar. And Obama is trying to throw this all back in Clinton’s face:

Let me just be absolutely clear what happened… The Canadian Consulate in Chicago contacted one of my advisers, Austan Goolsbee, on their own initiative, invited them down to meet with them. He met with them as a courtesy. At some point they strated talking about trade and Nafta and the Canadian Embassy confirmed that he said exactly what I have been saying on the campaign trail.

So this notion that Senator Clinton is peddling that somehow there is contradictions, or winks and nods, has been disputed by all the parties involved. What has not been disputed is that Senator Clinton and her husband championed Nafta, worked on behalf of Nafta, called it a victory, called it “good for America,” until she started running for president.

I know the Clinton campaign has been true to its word in employing a kitchen sink strategy. … It doesn’t change the facts.

The reaction up north? Well…

RSS icon Comments


I guess that's the substance versus rhetoric stuff people have been talking about lately

Posted by johnnie | March 3, 2008 4:29 PM

Hmmm, I love me some righteous Jack Layton. And how terrible of Harperbot 2008 to tell us that he doesn't understand our huu-mahn emotions and we must be terminated. How rude!

Posted by Original Andrew | March 3, 2008 4:45 PM

Clintonian scandals are so sordid they gross me out and make me want to beg them to make it stop. The Clintons make you ashamed to be a human being.

Obama scandals are totally different. Obama's scandals show he is fallible. He's human, like you and me, flawed but striving to be better. When Obama is in trouble, it gives us all hope for a better day to come.

Clintonistas are too angry to understand. I pity them, but maybe some day, even they will see past all the hate.

Posted by elenchos | March 3, 2008 4:55 PM

The "Labour Leader"? What is this, the UK?

Jack Layton is the leader of the New Democrat Party.

In an unrelated piece of fluff, my cousin and I met Jack at a Toronto street festival, and he shook my cousin's hand and wouldn't let go for close to a full minute. The awkwardness on my cousin's face as he tried to disengage was priceless.

Posted by Bont | March 3, 2008 5:00 PM

elenchos - yes, you're back in form

Posted by McG | March 3, 2008 5:03 PM

Jack Layton?

Are you serious?

He's been the party leader of the NDP for a long time - you know, they are frequently part of the coalition government in Canada.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 3, 2008 5:03 PM

This is fucking bullshit. I may be a Democrat, but to whine and complain about renegotiating NAFTA as a blatant move to pander to workers in Ohio that WILL NOT get their jobs back if NAFTA is overturned is stupid. (Moreso for Clinton, who, as mentioned before, supported it when it was convenient.)

Posted by bma | March 3, 2008 5:16 PM

It certainly does smack of intentional interference by Harper and the Conservatives, especially timed as it was with Harper's comment that it would be a huge mistake for an American president to renegotiate NAFTA.

Needless to say, Harper is a very, very good friend of Bush and the GOP.

Posted by Gabriel | March 3, 2008 5:21 PM

I don't mind Clinton raising the issue of Obama's experience and readiness to be commander-in-chief on day 1. Those are reasonable questions to raise and Obama needs to prove that he can handle the inevitable attacks on these issues from McCain.

But, I am so sick of Hillary's scorched earth, win at all costs attacks, like this one, that are based on taking issues out of context, or tying Obama to scandals that he has nothing to do with (Rezko), or even more ad hominem issues like plagiarizing speeches. Hillary obviously doesn't give a rat's ass what kind of damage she does to Obama (if, as still more likely than not he's the nominee) heading into the general election race with McCain.

In January, I was an Obama supporter who would have been perfectly happy with Clinton as the nominee. Now, if she does get the nomination after a nasty party-dividing fight over superdelegates, I'm not sure I'll be able to even vote for her. I can't be the only life-long Democrat who feels this way.

Posted by Bill LaBorde | March 3, 2008 5:59 PM

You're not the only one, Bill.

Posted by Brian S. | March 3, 2008 6:44 PM

You Obama zombies crack me up. This story came from the Canadian media, NOT Hillary. You can't blame her because your lying, crooked Chicago politician got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. And as for her trying to make him look bad, it seems to me that he's doing a pretty good job of that on his own.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | March 3, 2008 6:58 PM

This is all bullshit politics,again from the Clinton's, hope she looses tomorrow and looses by a big difference .I pray God for this because they are so bad, all they want is get back to the white House if she wins everything will be the same, they are simply no good period.

Posted by Simone Forest | March 3, 2008 7:23 PM

Barack Obama is a politician! And He has stinky poops! Damn that Clinton bitch and her evil scorched Earth (dragging the poor Canadiens into it now) machinations!

Posted by umvue | March 3, 2008 7:45 PM

Fact not denied by Obama:

There is a written contemporaneous memo from a consular staffer that said the Obama campaign high-level adviser said that Obama's "[NAFTA] messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.

Clear translation: "Don't worry Canada, Obama's just talking shit to fool the voters and play politics to win the election!"

Obama's denial:
1. ignore above fact and do not deny it. Because duh, it's true.

2. Lie that everyone involved says there was no wink or nod when the nondenied fact no. 1 above clearly says the opposite.

3. attack Clinton to distract attention from the turth.

And it's kind of wrong for a campaign to be talking to foreign governments anyway btw.

Posted by unPC | March 3, 2008 8:22 PM

or to mispelling of teh wort truth?

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 3, 2008 8:51 PM

Bill read a little on this and tell us the trial has nothing to do with Obama.,CST-NWS-rez23.article

Posted by McG | March 3, 2008 9:20 PM

Gabriel NAFTA is an international treaty. Do you think Canada and Mexico have no right to express an opinion if the US wants to renegotiate? If US politicians want to change treaties that is their right, but they must expect the other signatories to respond. Obama has gotten off to a poor start in dealing with international issues.

Posted by Mike | March 4, 2008 5:37 AM

That wasn't my point at all, Mike. Obviously all parties have a say in any future negotiations - that's what negotiations are. The point was that Harper's warnings about anti-NAFTA rhetoric coincided with members of his party trying to embarrass Obama with regards to NAFTA. He was meddling in the campaign, directly or indirectly.

FWIW, I don't like the Clinton and Obama anti-NAFTA rhetoric, though I'm open to the idea that it could be renegotiated better to suit various parties. Canada has some legitimate complaints about timber exports, for one.

Posted by Gabriel | March 4, 2008 5:08 PM

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