Clinton triangulation on Colombian free trade? Perhaps

posted at 9:50 pm on April 8, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

At least we know why Mark Penn didn’t think his representation of the free trade pact with Colombia presented much of a conflict of interest with his position as chief strategist for the Hillary Clinton campaign. The Colombian government reminded everyone today that Bill Clinton publicly backed the pact just three years ago. However, the Clinton campaign says that Bill and Hillary still have the right to disagree:

A reader in Latin America turned up a June 23, 2005 article from the news portal Terra (reprinted (.doc) by the Bogota government) that quotes Bill Clinton offering unambiguous support for the free trade agreement with Colombia.

The article is in Spanish, so what follows is a translation of a translation, but the gist is unmistakable:

“We need your help to expedite the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU is very important to give a clear signal of what the relations between the two countries should be,” President Alvaro Uribe said yesterday to the former president of the EU Bill Clinton, during Expogestion 2005.

“I will raise your point when you return to the United States,” Clinton replied. “I am in favor of the free trade agreement and it is my hope that we will find the right formula to reach the agreement.”

In fact, Bill favored a free-trade pact as far back as 2000, before the Colombian government implemented a series of reforms that brought violence against trade unionists down 86%. In 2005, those reforms had already begun improving the lives of Colombians of all stripes, which makes Clinton’s continued support more compelling. Since then, the strategic position of Colombia has only increased, given the erratic behavior of Hugo Chavez and his apparent support for FARC terrorists.

Does that require Hillary to support the pact? No. However, she has made a point of running on her husband’s economic record, and trade pacts like NAFTA contributed to the economic expansion in the 1990s. Given that she has now claimed to oppose NAFTA and free trade pacts in general, what about the Clinton administration’s economic policy does she embrace? Welfare reform?

It also comprised a significant part of the foreign policy of the Clinton administration. The idea of turning the Western Hemisphere into a free-trade zone had more than just economics in mind. The idea was to promote an expansion of economic freedom to help isolate tinpot dictators like Chavez and raise the standard of living to promote stability in South America. How would Clinton accomplish those goals — or are those no longer goals of the Clintons?

A more cynical view would be that nothing much has changed since the 1990s. Instead of Bill doing all of the triangulating, it’s now become a tag team. Populists can rely on Hillary’s stump rhetoric, while moderates can hope that Bill’s influence will move a Hillary presidency back to the center. The only problem is that the routine has gotten so predictable that it may have convinced Democrats to back Barack Obama instead.


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The only problem is that the routine has gotten so predictable that it may have convinced Democrats to back Barack Obama instead.

My dog gets it.

JiangxiDad on April 8, 2008 at 9:56 PM

Tag-team triangulation.

Ménage à trois deux.

Entelechy on April 8, 2008 at 9:57 PM

Are there any other two individuals hated as much as these two ???

aniladesai on April 8, 2008 at 10:03 PM

On second thought, I should leave it at ménage à trois, because the Clintons are firmly convinced that we are the third party. Alas, we’re done being screwed by them. That the libs are done also, is Schadenfreude beyond belief.

Now they can go screw each other, figuratively.

Entelechy on April 8, 2008 at 10:04 PM

I’ve dropped my hatred for the Clintons for a few months in order to support the ideology that is OPERATION CHAOS. However, with her own doing with the Sniper lie and her other self destructing maneuvers, I am back to hating them again. I am very much looking forward to her conciliation speech. It will be wonderful to watch her try to turn a negative into a positive.

THE CHOSEN ONE on April 8, 2008 at 10:07 PM

THE CHOSEN ONE on April 8, 2008 at 10:07 PM

It’s frustrating that with her new conservative friends behind her for Operation Chaos, she’s not exactly doing herself, or her friends, favors.

OneGyT on April 8, 2008 at 10:12 PM

They’ve made a career out of playing both ends against the middle and then denying it.

whitetop on April 8, 2008 at 10:14 PM

TWEEEET!!!!!!!

Personal foul- Hillary Clinton.

We are supposed to be electing Hillary on her own merits, yet we still seem to be getting back to Bill Clinton no matter how much we want to relegate this failed President to the dustbin of history. To a certain extent, I blame Hillary Clinton. If she really was the anti-FTA candidate she claims to be, she has had ample opportunity to take that position. She never did until the unions started complaining.

highhopes on April 8, 2008 at 10:25 PM

powerlineblog had this tidbit or relevance re the Colombian trade pact:

While a lot of attention has been paid to the politics of the Colombia agreement, very little has been paid to the merits, which U. S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab addressed at a press conference this afternoon:

If you look at the Colombia agreement itself, the Colombia agreement is a matter of leveling the playing field. Virtually everything that Colombia exports to the United States currently comes in duty-free through preference programs that have been around — temporary preference programs, but they’ve been around since 1991.
And what this free trade agreement does is open the Colombian market to U.S. exports of goods and services. And on the date that this agreement would enter into force, 80 percent of what we ship to Colombia in industrial and consumer goods would become duty-free.

Colombia currently has tariffs as high as 35 percent on those goods.

And in the case of agriculture, there are tariffs in the 80-plus percent range. Those would also — many of them would drop to zero upon entry into force and then would phase out thereafter.

So from a trade perspective, this is a matter of leveling the playing field. And, as we’ve seen with our other free trade agreements, U.S. exports to our FTA partner countries have grown 40 percent faster than our exports to the rest of the world.

Running in the Democratic primaries, Clinton and Obama are appealing to the least well-informed, least sophisticated element of America’s electorate. Sadly, instead of trying to lead on the issue of free trade, as Bill Clinton once did, to his credit, Hillary and Obama have chosen to pander to their voters’ biases.

onlineanalyst on April 8, 2008 at 10:27 PM

Now they can go screw each other, figuratively.

Entelechy on April 8, 2008 at 10:04 PM

As one of Hillary’s past therapists I can comment on that.

Figuratively is indeed the operative word Madam as Bill and Hillary have not actually had sex with each other since some time around 1990, except if you count yelling “#uck you” and “Well #uck you too” back at each other on numerous occasions of course. With Hillary’s election chances going down almost by the day, I have the distinct feeling that will become more frequent soon.

Sigy on April 8, 2008 at 10:31 PM

THE CHOSEN ONE on April 8, 2008 at 10:07 PM

Question for you-

Does Operation Chaos help or hurt in the long run? Short-term it keeps the “rats” at each other’s throats but doesn’t this also give credibility to those demanding the “Fairness Doctrine” be imposed to silence talk radio? Despite the fact that McCain is really a liberal Democrat, his victory in November will renew the idea that talk radio has too much power in the electoral process. Should Juan McCain lose, the mantra will be that Democrats need to put an end to talk radio’s influence by imposing the fairness doctrine by executive order.

highhopes on April 8, 2008 at 10:32 PM

Sigy, professional discretion aside, this being a place where one remains anonymous, do tell more about other aspects of her therapy sessions. If not now, and here, then when/where?

Entelechy on April 8, 2008 at 10:47 PM

Stupid democrates. unlike NAFTA and China trade this deal will actually be good for the USA because as of now we are paying tarrifs to enter their market and they aren’t paying to enter ours. but since this trade pact unlike the India one where we gave india nuclear tech and got mangrovess this one is good for us so of course the dems don’t like it. anything that is good for America is bad IRT the dems.

unseen on April 8, 2008 at 10:51 PM

Sigy, professional discretion aside, this being a place where one remains anonymous, do tell more about other aspects of her therapy sessions. If not now, and here, then when/where?

Entelechy on April 8, 2008 at 10:47 PM

Well I am all for “professional discretion” of course, but as you are all discreet here, or so I am told anyway, I can reveal some of her more minor “issues” that have come out in some of her more recent sessions with me I feel.

She has recently been experiencing what some now days call, I believe it is PTSS, about her days facing heavy combat as a Marine in Bosnia. She has been having flashbacks of facing sniper fire and even sustained hand to hand combat. She is still grieving over the loss of one of her fellows, a man she calls Sinbad, although that must be just her nick name for him. She is a very strong woman to still be running for President against now great odds while having to relive all those horrors. And then there is having to deal with that cheating husband of hers with whom she has a very unhealthy love/hate relationship. Poor woman, I do not know how much longer she can go without a complete crack up though.

Sigy on April 8, 2008 at 11:13 PM

highhopes on April 8, 2008 at 10:32 PM

It is the stupid primary rules that allow this to happen. As a citizen of north Carolina I have until 04/11/08 to switch parties. This is stupid.

unseen on April 9, 2008 at 12:31 AM

If Hillary wasn’t positioning herself for some very large bundled donations, then she truly is stupid.

Lonetown on April 9, 2008 at 5:43 AM

I am still waiting for her to finally drop the other shoe and throw Bubba Billy himself under the bus.

pilamaye on April 9, 2008 at 7:13 AM

Looking at the picture of these two, and I feel they look kinda like Louis and Marie Antoinette..Doomed……

adamsmith on April 9, 2008 at 8:04 AM

I bought a bag of frozen fruit yesterday. The fruit came from the United States, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Mango and Papaya aren’t in season in the United States yet. It’s because of free trade agreements that I can acquire these products out of season in the United States at a reasonable cost.

I wonder what US products the people in Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica and Honduras have purchased as a result of the free trade agreements.

gabriel sutherland on April 9, 2008 at 11:04 AM