Change We Can Believe In, Eh?


Canada's CTV has been working a story on the Obama campaign that puts the lie to his heated anti-free trade rhetoric in Wisconsin and Ohio. Here's the channel's sum-up so far:

On Wednesday, CTV reported that a senior member of Obama's campaign called the Canadian government within the last month—saying that when Senator Obama talks about opting out of the free trade deal, the Canadian government shouldn't worry. The operative said it was just campaign rhetoric not to be taken seriously.

The Obama campaign told CTV late Thursday night that no message was passed to the Canadian government that suggests that Obama does not mean what he says about opting out of NAFTA if it is not renegotiated.

However, the Obama camp did not respond to repeated questions from CTV on reports that a conversation on this matter was held between Obama's senior economic adviser—Austin Goolsbee—and the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago. Earlier Thursday, the Obama campaign insisted that no conversations have taken place with any of its senior ranks and representatives of the Canadian government on the NAFTA issue.

On Thursday night, CTV spoke with Goolsbee, but he refused to say whether he had such a conversation with the Canadian government office in Chicago. He also said he has been told to direct any questions to the campaign headquarters.

Ed Morrissey has more, and points out that Goolsbee is far too influential, far too prominent in the Obama campaign's argument for economic credentials, to be brushed off. Certainly the story sounds true. As the Economist editorializes this week, Obama's economic rhetoric doesn't match what he's argued for until he became a presidential candidate. There is an undercurrent of bullshit here: Obama is winking at journalists and pundits outside the primary states, who know he's not going to walk into the White House and start shredding trade deals. He's simply pandered to the strengthening, post-Clintonite fair trade majority in the Democratic party. Polls, unsurprisingly, suggest that it's worked.

More from James Pethokoukis here.