Friday, June 12, 2015

With TPP now stalled but scheduled for a new vote Democrats should remember how Obama was caught lying about NAFTA.

News outlets are calling it a " humiliating defeat for Obama". On Friday a bipartisan vote which included 144 Democrats voted down 126-302 a key part of the TPP for retraining displaced workers that was part of the  TPP package that would give Obama fast track authority on trade deals. The TAA portion of the bill was voted down in a resounding defeat despite Obama's personal visit to the Capitol to lobby Democrats to support the bill.

Boehner  is scheduling a new vote on Tuesday,and while  there is no reason to think any Democrats will change their vote,for any Democrats on the fence and feeling shaky in the face of a new round of Obama arm twisting, or even succumbing to potential bribes,  it might help for them to recall how regarding another trade deal,  NAFTA,  Obama was caught in one of the most cynical,  dishonest, callous and self serving lies ever told by a candidate for any office much less the presidency. It was a lie so egregious it was proof that Obama could never  be trusted about anything and revealed a degree of dishonesty and duplicity that would have ended not just the candidacy of any other presidential candidate  but most likely their entire political career.  Had Obama not been carrying the symbolism of electing the First Black President which had become cause celebre to many in the Democratic party and news media,   it would have.

 It happened during the Ohio presidential primaries in 2008 where polls showed Obama trailing Hillary Clinton by a landslide margin.  At the time, even before the economic crisis, Ohio had been dealing with massive unemployment especially in manufacturing jobs and had at the time, 286,000 unemployed. In his effort to gets votes, Obama blamed their unemployment on NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement Bill Clinton had signed with Mexico and Canada and then tried to tie Hillary Clinton to the trade deal. 

Politifact quickly labeled Obama's assertions that NAFTA was the sole cause of Ohio's high unemployment untrue.  But that turned out to be the least of Obama's falsehoods.

Obama in his speeches in Ohio looked the unemployed in the eye and told them emphatically that not only was NAFTA to blame for their unemployment but that if  he was elected president he would get rid of it.

What was exposed days later,  was that at the same time he was telling the people of Ohio that NAFTA was the cause of their problems and he would end it, he sent Austan Goolsbee, one of his economic advisors to the Canadian embassy in Chicago to tell them to ignore what Obama was saying publicly about getting rid of NAFTA, he had no intention of getting rid of it and what he was saying publicly in Ohio was just politics.

Someone at the Canadian embassy not taken with Obama's duplicity, leaked the substance of the meeting to the AP who reported it. Obama immediately denied it and lied about it for 7 straight days.  

First he denied there was even anyone by the name of Austan Goolsbee working for his campaign. When it was pointed out that Goolsbee was listed as one of his economic advisors Obama's reaction was almost " Oh that Austan Goolsbee". He  then conceded Goolsbee worked for his campaign but said he never sent him to the Canadian embassy in Chicago. When the log books were checked and it was reported that Goolsbee did indeed go to the Canadian embassy on the date reported, Obama said, well  okay, maybe he did, but he went on his own for his own reasons and not as part of his campaign,

When the log book entry confirmed that Goolsbee was indeed sent there on behalf of the Obama campaign Obama's response was, well okay,okay maybe he did go there on behalf of his campaign but he never told Goolsbee to tell the Canadians that what he was saying about getting rid of NAFTA was just politics and that he had no intention of getting rid of it. That,Obama said,was untrue.

This final lie was apparently too much for someone inside the Canadian embassy who was present at the meeting and they leaked the actual physical written minutes of the meeting to the AP who published them. The minutes showed Goolsbee told the embassy that he was sent there by Obama  to reassure them that despite what Obama  was saying publicly in his speeches he had no intention of getting rid of NAFTA, it was just politics.

While the news media made a story of it momentarily it was dropped soon after the primary and Obama was never held accountable for his serial lying about the incident not to mention the substance of his duplicity. Obama's supporters for the most part turned a blind eye to the release of the minutes and all the proof of how cyncially Obama lied and played politics with people's lives, since none of them wanted to deal with Obama's dishonesty and lack of integrity and cynical politics because of the cause celebre at the time of electing the First Black President. And few in  the news media wanted to be responsible for  sending that train off its tracks. So no one held Obama's feet to the fire as evidence of both a lack of character, untrustworthiness and duplicitous policy. It was easier to bash Clinton instead. 

The Clinton campaign responded but it was mild, even tepid, because behind the scenes they were were being  pressured by the DNC  not to attack Obama too hard. 

In the end, Clinton beat Obama in the Ohio primary by landslide numbers, the candidates moved on and the news media, unlike raking Anthony Weiner over the coals for weeks and parking satellite trucks in front of his home  for a consensual online sex chat, dropped and ignored the whole episode. 

It was revived momentarily during the 2010 Olympics in Canada as a result of a Canadian version of the Freedom of Information Act filed by Canadian journalists for access to the emails between the embassy in Chicago and Ottawa at the time. The emails  were made public and showed that some inside the government applauded the release of the minutes exposing Obama's duplicity while others were more interested in damage control should Obama get elected. But all the emails confirmed one thing: the validity and truthfulness  of what had happened which both Obama and Goolsbee had tried to deny.

By that time the U.S. news media was more interested in the Olympics than Obama's lies concerning NAFTA in 2008 and nothing more was made of it.

What's relevant now is that TPP is about giving Obama fast track authority to make deals that congress can't modify. And with a Republican majority in the House and senate its likely that Republicans are not going to be concerned about the same issues as Democrats, like  jobs. In fact one of the Republican proposals was to cut Medicare by $700 million and use the money to help or retrain those who will lose their jobs as a result of the TPP, something Obama had no problem doing. Which is in effect an admission that the trade bill Obama is pushing would cost jobs. The provision didn't fly because too many Republicans up for re-election didn't want to be tied to Medicare cuts.

The vote on Friday was a clear rebuke to Obama from Democrats whom he tried to woo in a closed door meeting by questioning their integrity. Which is like Bernie Madoff complaining about excessive bank fees for bounced checks. But while the bill is now stalled it's not yet killed entirely and Boehner will bring it up for a vote again on Thursday with Obama colluding with Mitchell and Boehner to get it passed. 

So it's still useful for Democrats to remember what happened in Ohio in 2008 and what it said about Obama since the real issue for Democrats is about whether Obama can be trusted to negotiate deals that Democrats can't modify in a Republican controlled congress.  Based on his history,  not as far as you can throw an unemployment check.  

And based on the House vote on Friday most Democrats seem to have gotten the memo.  Including the one from the Canadian embassy in 2008. 

For those interested, the entire memo of the meeting in 2008 that Obama at first said never took place can be read here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What, exactly, is the urgency? Why is there such a need to empower Obama with dictatorial powers because it will speed up things? It's difficult for me to believe that it's all about Obama's legacy. That's too ephemeral to motivate risking alienation of his own party. Are the corporations afraid of Hillary Clinton? Given how so many Obamabots claim it is she that is in bed with the corporations, why would they be worried? Besides the obvious profits for corporations, why is it important enough to rush action? Giving speed as a rationale for taking away congressional review seems weak, in and of itself. The Repubs. control congress, and that's not going to change until Obama leaves. something is not right with the excuses.