At the same time the guy who is still doing the Doonesbury cartoon and the rest of conventional wisdom were for some reason or another were ridiculing the Republicans for their knee-jerk opposition to anything our first African-American president does, the congressional GOP was lining up behind fast-track authority for President Barack Obama to negotiate some sort of deal or another with the vast Asian economy. Given the instincts and the luck of the Republican party, it’s not surprising that the very rare occasions when they sided when with the president was also one on of those rare occasions when he might have been right and even one of those rarer occasions when it all turned out to be a political disaster.
Although we’re disinclined to believe anything the National Broadcasting Company’s news network has to say, we’re inclined to believe their latest poll showing that a clear majority of the American is either outright opposed or at at the very east skeptical about providing Obama with fast-track authority to negotiate a trade weal with the vast Asian economy. That number would naturally include all the trade unions and workers and voters in the susceptible-to-foreign-competition economies in both Republican and Democrat districts, as well as all the ideologically protectionists types in every district, nor matter how cushy their big-media sinecures might be, along with all the more economically insecure grumpy free-trade and laissez faire types living in export-economies such as ourselves who simply wouldn’t trust the president with any sort of authority to do anything. Throw in the president’s usual secrecy about the deal, and the nagging suspicion that at worst it’s some of redistribute-the-wealth-to-Asia and scheme and an old-fashioned snookering of the Iranian nuclear bomb that the president is also negotiating on on uncomfortably fast track, and the latest revelations that’s something about illegal immigration in there, along with all the phony-baloney arguments against a reasonably negotiated fair trade deal, and we’re surprised the numbers weren’t even more toxic.
There’s some consolation in the way the president is castigating his usual Democratic allies in the same way he usually castigates his usual Republican allies, and an undeniable amusement how the mainstream press suddenly doesn’t seem to know who’s side to take, There’s also a certain interest regarding the crowded Republican presidential candidates, with some of the more intriguing candidates taking careful position against the unpopular legislation and some staking a worth-considering argument for it, and a partisan reassurance that even the dumbest Republicans were at least taking a stand for free trade, but on the whole it’s a debacle. If the president and his suddenly chummy Republicans allies get their way it will likely wind up re-destributing America’s wealth, if they don’t it will mostly be because of wrong-headed protectionist arguments that the likes of the Democrats believe, and the best-case scenario is that a reasonable fair-trade agreement will await another two years for the possibility that one of those Republicans who figured it out winds up in office and there aren’t too many Democrats to along. We’ll cling to that long-shot chance, and hope to find something more heartening out there.
— Bud Norman