Monday, April 7, 2008

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Trade destroys jobs....inside the betway

Freer trade doesn't lead to much job loss in the real economy -- but the effects of trade in the world of presidential campaigns can be devastating:

Mr. [Mark] Penn, who has kept his job atop the global PR giant Burson-Marsteller to the chagrin of other officials in the Clinton camp, met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. a week ago to discuss the firm's contracted effort to sell the U.S.-Colombian trade pact -- which Sen. Clinton opposes, as The Wall Street Journal reported last week. After that came to light, Mr. Penn apologized and called the meeting an "error in judgment" -- which in turn upset the Colombians, who on Saturday terminated Burson-Marsteller's contract. Late yesterday, the campaign said Mr. Penn asked to "give up his role as chief strategist" but that he and his political-consulting firm "will continue to provide polling and advice."....

Today, Mr. Penn's association with the campaign could raise questions about Sen. Clinton's commitment to trade policy two weeks before the key Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, where, as the Journal reports, trade issues are likely to count for a lot. But it's the reminder of how much candidates are being sold that could resonate more than the doubts that many industrial workers have about trade accords.

A bitter irony of this latest kerfuffle is that this will likely be the most prominent mention of Colombia during the presidential campaign -- just as the NAFTA imbroglio will have been the most prominent mention of Canada.

Just to repeat myself:

I've said it before and I will say it again: Democrats cannot simultaneously talk about improving America's standing abroad while acting like a belligerent unilateralist when it comes to trade policy.

posted by Dan on 04.07.08 at 08:03 AM


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