Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Conservatives Shit Themselves Over Obama’s Anti-NAFTA Trade Representative Pick

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on December 3, 2008

(My headline, not David’s. David is a very nice man.) 

David Sirota

Hide your children! It's Xavi!

Hide your children! Its Xavi!

My dad used to tell me that when you watch baseball and you see a fly ball hit into the outfield, you have to watch the outfielders and not the ball to get a sense of where the ball is going. It can be the same thing in politics – you often have to watch the reaction of key sets of people to understand the policy implications of a given move.

So in light of that, when Karl Rove and the conservative commentariat are praising a president’s move – any president’s – it’s a sign that the move is an out. However, when corporate lobbyists and right-wing think tanks are criticizing a president’s move, that’s a great sign that it’s going to be an extra-base hit – and that’s exactly what’s happening in the wake of the news about trade critic Rep. Xavier Becerra being appointed the next U.S. Trade Representative:

“We’re pretty concerned about some of the past statements he’s made on issues such as Nafta,” says one well-plugged in business lobbyist…

While [Becerra] voted for Nafta, he later said he regrets having done so. More recently, he voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, but did vote for a trade pact with Peru. At times he has been highly critical of the global trading system, calling it “broken completely” in 2006 before voting against a trade deal with Oman.

“It’s troubling; to oppose Nafta is in many ways to lash out symbolically against trade,” without understanding the benefits of that agreement says Philip Levy, a former Bush administration trade official now with the American Enterprise Institute. “You want the chief person who has to make the case to the American public for trade to recognize what those agreements did.”

I love the part from the American Enterprise Institute hack equating opposition to NAFTA to somehow not “recognizing what those agreements did.” It’s the old binary frame that portrays those in favor of job-killing, wage-destroying, environment-raping corporate-written trade agreements as Serious and Enlightened and those who want a new trade model as Know-Nothing Luddites.

Becerra likely knows all to well what NAFTA did. It’s not that hard to see it when you walk the streets of many places in the United States, or when you bother to simply look at the data. We’re going to need a trade representative who understands the pitfalls of our current policies in order to make sure, as Businessweek says, that the jobs created by the economic rescue package are created here in America, and not abroad.

The fact that his nomination has corporate lobbyists and the conservative D.C. Establishment worried is a very good thing indeed.