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
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.
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.
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.