Hillary now blows to wherever the wind may take her

Wow, Hillary Clinton is really getting desperate.

She is so anxious to placate the emotional left of her party that she has abandoned the Pacific trade agreement she promoted until recently. The WSJ summed up her conversion this way:

Mrs. Clinton was asked on PBS’s NewsHour whether the trade deal is “something you could support?”

Her reply: “What I know about it, as of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it. And there is one other element I want to make, because I think it’s important. Trade agreements don’t happen in a vacuum, and in order for us to have a competitive economy in the global marketplace, there are things we need to do here at home that help raise wages. And the Republicans have blocked everything President Obama tried to do on that front. So for the larger issues, and then what I know, and again, I don’t have the text, we don’t yet have all the details, I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set.”

So she hasn’t seen the agreement’s text, and can’t speak to the details, but she’s against the deal because Republicans who haven’t held the White House in seven years haven’t raised wages.

Mrs. Clinton previously called the Pacific pact the “gold standard in trade agreements,” and as recently as her memoir in 2014 she praised it as “important for American workers who would benefit from competing on a more level playing field.” At State she took a leading role in promoting the pact and in January 2013 said that “I think the Trans-Pacific Partnership is one way that could really enhance our relationship” with Japan. She supported Nafta and she backed the trade deal with South Korea, but now she’s had a change of heart—or should we say soul….

Basically, she preemptively dropped this hot potato before she even had a good grip on it. But the fact that this agreement is a hot potato shows how far gone her party is.

People go on about how the Republicans have lost their way, being held hostage by the flakes on its fringe, and they’re absolutely right to do so.

Well, the Democrats have the same problem. They have their own Know-Nothings, with notions about trade and growth that seem to have been drafted by Occupy Wall Street, and leading candidates are in their thrall.

It’s been awhile since the party has had sensible Third Way leadership with names such as… Clinton.

10 thoughts on “Hillary now blows to wherever the wind may take her

  1. bud

    People go on about how the Republicans have lost their way, being held hostage by the flakes on their fringe, and they’re absolutely right to do so.

    Well, the Democrats have the same problem. They have their own Know-Nothings, with notions about trade and growth that seem to have been drafted by Occupy Wall Street, and leading candidates are in their thrall.

    Apparently Brad’s definition of “flakes on the fringe” is anyone who happens to disagree with Brad. Opposition to the TPP is hardly something that can be described as flakey. There are some legitimate concerns regarding its impact on labor and sovereignty. Frankly my view is that the pros outweigh the cons but it’s ridiculous to label opponents of the agreement as “flakes” and “know nothings”. Sorry Brad but the flakey party is undeniably the GOP. Just look who their POTUS front runners are. In the lead is a narcissistic business man who relishes in insulting everyone. In second place is a man who rejects evolution. And the number 3 candidate is a failed business woman who imagines seeing things on videos that don’t exist. The Democrats may have their issues but they are non starters when it comes to flakey.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    You want my definition of “flakes on the fringe?” Well, there are all kinds, but the kind I’m talking about here is, as I said, the Occupy Wall Street kind — the kind that believes, as an article of faith, that our entire economy is a gigantic swindle, a scam perpetrated by a few rich people who live to give every working folk the shaft…

    It’s an extremely limiting worldview, and one that is sure to doom the middle class to continued declining fortunes…

  3. Phillip

    The only “article of faith” in this case, is blind faith in a system that has not been delivering on a promise for the middle class for 40 years or more. Maybe the remedy of opposing these trade agreements is not the right one, maybe it is—but you can’t dismiss working people’s fears and economic anxieties as “flaky.” The power of this anxiety is undeniable and its manifestation in political movements on both sides of the spectrum is also very real.

    At least you acknowledge the middle class’ “continued declining fortunes” but you can’t blame that on trade-agreement-opponents. We had Bill Clinton with NAFTA, and then 8 years of George Bush culminating in the 08 collapse, and now slow recovery under Obama. But the overall arc has been clear for a long time. Can you blame people for wanting to pursue a different course?

    1. Phillip

      And since you like WSJ, we’ll go with their poll from a few months back—the headline on this article was actually trumpeting the increased support from Americans for free trade agreements, not opposition. Yet what they were noting was that it was actually the first time since the recession that a plurality had turned in favor of such agreements. The larger point is that it’s hardly some small “flaky” fringe that has anxieties and concerns about whether the TPP will help or hurt the American middle and working classes. It’s a significant chunk of our country.

      Of course, to your original point of the post, I can’t argue with that—-there’s no question Hillary is tacking a bit to the left here to take a bit of wind out of the sails of Bernie Sanders.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      It’s called populism, and it is by its nature popular. But that should not be the case among policymakers who have demonstrated in the past that they understand that the way to increase prosperity is to increase trade and other economic activity, not to maintain barriers to it.

      For Joe Blow out there who never thinks about macroeconomics, but knows that he’s not as well off as he was, the idea of doing more business with foreigners might be scary. But Hillary Clinton knows better than that, which is why she supported this development, right up until she decided she could make more political hay by opposing it.

    3. Brad Warthen Post author

      This is one of those things that is a matter of feeling (the widespread gut feeling you’re describing, out there in the electorate) vs. thought.

      Hillary was always a thinker until now.

      That has actually been one of her drawbacks politically. She’s the wonk, lacking in the sort of personality that connects with people. Unlike Joe Biden, who is a people person but also a fairly serious policy guy.

      She’s the one who went into that room with all the other wonks and came out with a national health plan, and then Harry and Louise terrified the masses into rejecting it. (You want to see a conspiracy by big business, go back to that one. Of course, the insurance companies are some of the biggest fans of Obamacare now, so you have to put that into your conspiracy theory.)

      Now, she’s rolling with that same kind of populist fear. She stoops to pander. This is worse than being disconnected…

      1. Pam Wilkins

        I can’t speak to whether Hillary Clinton is pandering–wouldn’t be surprising if she is–and I also am sure that many of those who oppose the TPP are being “emotional.” (It’s also true that much reflexive support of trade agreements is “emotional.”) All that being said, it’s pretty dismissive to lump all opposition to the TPP into a “these people are emotional and not-so-smart-and-analytic” category. That’s what you seem to be doing, Brad, even if it isn’t what you intend.

        The truth is there is plenty of thoughtful and well reasoned opposition to the TPP. Take this op ed by Paul Krugman: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/22/opinion/paul-krugman-trade-and-trust.html?action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=31&pgtype=collection

        Krugman may be on the left and may also express some passion as he discusses issues, but it strikes me that his ability to address issues intellectually isn’t in serious question. He didn’t get a Nobel Prize in Economics or a professorship at Princeton, etc. for his ability to sing The Brady Bunch theme.

        That’s all a separate question from whether Hillary is pandering (or acknowledging the left in her own party), but it’s intellectually lazy to assume those against the TPP all are just a bunch of hysterical dopes. Not true, and not fair.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Really? My bad. I had thought the folks in Oslo were blown away by his rendition of the Brady theme. 🙂

          Seriously, though, there are intelligent people who buy into this policy position, and who because of their cleverness can no doubt rationalize their position quite elegantly. Clever people can make a case for ANYTHING.

          But I still maintain that the main force of this movement as it generally manifests itself is emotional.

          What the middle class, the working class, and the rest of us need is growth, economic dynamism. And that includes, among many other things, more affluent foreigners who can buy our goods.

          Trust me on this. I feel it strongly in my gut… Again, 🙂

  4. bud

    As usual Phillip’s points are spot on. To expand on this just a bit more, it’s become more obvious with each passing day that income inequality is a real and troubling concern with our economy. The promise of trade agreements is that they will improve the efficiency of the market by enabling member nations the opportunity to take advantage of their natural strengths. In less developed countries that tends to be a large, underutilized labor force. In more developed countries that tends toward advanced production techniques. Certain industries need less skilled labor whereas others require automation. Trade agreements facilitate those advantages. Hence the basic theory behind trade agreements. The theory is sound enough so I tend to support these types of agreements.

    But the reality is for US workers wages are stagnant. The question becomes: is it because of the agreements or in spite of them. It’s a question of correlation. It is hardly flakey to see a very real correlation that runs counter to conventional trade theory thinking. Perhaps it’s time to revisit the best way to proceed with trade agreements. Perhaps, just perhaps the theory is flawed.

  5. Doug T

    I am officially weary of Hillary. She’s starting to grate on my nerves with her fake loud laughing. During her Meet the Press interview she “you know” 41 times. I can’t take much more of her.
    I dread election day if Joe doesn’t swoop in to save the day. I voted Republican once in 43 years and never will again. Guess I’ll go Libertarian next year.


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