Actually, does this count as a flip-flop?
Speaking at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, as part of a two-day swing through the leadoff caucus state, Clinton said that she’s worried “about currency manipulation not being part of the agreement” and that “pharmaceutical companies may have gotten more benefits and patients fewer.”
“As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it,” Clinton said, later adding, “I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set.”
That’s some fine Clintonian parsing — she’s not in favor only as of today, and only based on what she currently knows! — but realistically there’s no way she could tease liberals like this and then end up coming out in favor of the deal later, given her looooooong track record of annoying them by advocating for a TPP. If you missed this CNN feature by Jake Tapper back in June, go read it now. Forty-five separate times she praised the idea of a bill like this. Now she’s facing a surprisingly stiff challenge from Bernie Sanders in the primaries and suddenly she’s got issues with free trade. The Sanders campaign could lift Tapper’s piece wholesale and start circulating it among leftists as oppo research illustrating just what a pandering hypocrite she is, as if hedging now on TPP would undo her prior support or the fact that Bill Clinton, in case you forgot, was responsible for NAFTA. Here’s a fun NPR piece from April:
Yet, previously as secretary of state, Clinton called the Trans-Pacific Partnership the “gold standard in trade agreements.” In her second memoir, Hard Choices, released in 2014, Clinton lauded the deal, saying it “would link markets throughout Asia and the Americas, lowering trade barriers while raising standards on labor, the environment, and intellectual property.” She even said it was “important for American workers, who would benefit from competing on a more level playing field.” She also called it “a strategic initiative that would strengthen the position of the United States in Asia.”
She started inching away from NAFTA in 2000, coincidentally just in time for her run for Senate in deep blue New York. But the White House isn’t going to let her inch too far on this one. Back in June, when Susan Rice was asked to name some of her former boss’s greatest accomplishments at State, she made sure to mention her support for TPP as one of them. And Rice isn’t the only State employee to tout Hillary’s role in TPP: Another is … Hillary Clinton herself, who boasted about the prospects of a deal in her last book, never expecting that a Sanders or Warren might seriously galvanize progressives to block her path to the nomination:
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) October 7, 2015
So much for her big achievement now. So here we are, a week out from the first Democratic debate, with Obama’s VP poised to jump in and duty-bound to defend the TPP deal to some greater or lesser extent, and the Hillarybot has decided that it’s in her interest to move left to protect herself against Sanders. Bad idea. Because not only will she irritate centrist Dems and Obama-worshipping liberals by crossing him on this, but hardly a single Sanders voter will reconsider her based on this position given how transparently politically calculated it is. As Gabe Malor says, “Clinton will get a 5 point bump from this. In the ‘not honest or trustworthy’ polls.” In fact, if you were searching for a reason to watch next week’s debate, now you’ve got one: It should be high comedy watching Sanders feed Hillary tons of sh*t for her sudden pandering reversal on TPP. Can’t wait.
Update: And here’s Martin O’Malley, quick out of the box.
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) October 7, 2015