Wednesday, June 13, 2007

'Ms. Clinton, Thinking Small'

There are a number of lessons Hillary Clinton never learned from her husband's presidency. Chief among them is the value of supporting free and open trade with the world, a surefire method to bring wealth to poor countries, lower the cost of living here at home, all-the-while improving America's image abroad. The Washington Post says Clinton's opposition to a proposed trade agreement with South Korea represents a strategic mistake of the very worst sort:

The United States and South Korea in April concluded 10 months of negotiations to sign what would be, if ratified, the most far-reaching trade agreement since the pact with Mexico and Canada that President Bill Clinton championed in 1993. It's a pact between the world's largest and 11th-largest economies that would benefit workers, farmers and companies on both sides. As a democracy with a strong trade union movement, South Korea doesn't pose the workers' rights challenges that vex unionists in agreements with poorer countries. This deal would open the Korean market to a wide array of U.S. agricultural, industrial and cultural products and services; in fact, the political risks in South Korea are far higher than here. And it would demonstrate U.S. commitment to a vital region at a time when China is steadily gaining ground.

But forget all that; Ms. Clinton objects that South Korean manufacturers sell many more cars here than do American carmakers over there. Never mind that the agreement requires Korea to remove discriminatory tariffs and taxes on U.S. cars; never mind that U.S. tariffs on Korean cars can "snap back" if Korea doesn't keep its word. Not good enough, says Ms. Clinton. What more could she have wanted for Detroit? She won't say.

Will any Democratic presidential candidate take the responsible position on trade? John Edwards, a labor lackey, announced his opposition to the South Korea agreement in April; Barack Obama says he's still thinking it over, according to the Post. When will Democrats learn that Bill Clinton succeeded because he wasn't a conventional leftist?

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