Worthwhile Canadian Article

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The Canadian-owned TNR has the scoop on the Canadian scandal that torpedoed Barack Obama in Ohio. Sort of. Well, not really.

Did [Canadian PM Stephen] Harper or his team try to meddle in the Ohio primary for political or ideological reasons? We will likely never know unless something like a smoking gun is produced–an e-mail or phone record that categorically links Brodie to Goolsbee, et al.

Michael Blanchfield is not in possession of said gun or said smoke. The strongest evidence he has is hearsay.

Harper called the leak regrettable and "blatantly unfair" to Obama's campaign, and has promised a full internal investigation to find the source. But his attempts to distance himself and his office aren't ringing true to some. As one opposition Liberal MP correctly noted, leaks from the Harper government are rare. It is well known that Harper's office keeps cabinet ministers–not to mention diplomats abroad–on a tight leash. These days, even the most seasoned of former diplomats check with Ottawa before talking to the media.

The strongest evidence I have is hearsay, too, so here it goes: some Canadian conservatives are friendly with some American Republican operatives. Before the 2006 election when the Tories finally took back power, Ralph Reed was one of several Americans of the rightward persuasion who advised the party. In 2007 I hung out at CPAC with some Canadian conservatives and a friend of theirs who had done some political work in the country: Frank Sensenbrenner, son of Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner. American political consultants (like Dick Morris) do work in Mexico, too, and American consultants probably swung the 2006 Mexican election away from the left-wing, pro-Chavez candidate. But let's look at the substance and tamp down the outrage. On the substance, Ezra Klein is right:

On the one hand, both the Clinton and the Obama campaigns were playing Ohioans, pretending to be viciously opposed to NAFTA even as they've no intention of seriously changing the agreement.

For that reason I wasn't too sad about Obama's doubletalk on trade being revealed, and I will be doubleplus-unsad if it's revealed that Hillary "My husband signed NAFTA when we were co-presidents but I was secretly against it!" Clinton was blowing smoke on this, too.

NEXT: Hey Teacher! Don't Leave Those Kids at Home.

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  1. Where’s joe to tell us that Canada is really a democracy because…

    Oh, wait…

  2. This rumor was filmed in 3-B. Three beers and it looks good.

  3. As ever, it isn’t the scandal, its the coverup.

    I think what is really frosting people’s knickers now isn’t Obama’s amateur-hour diplomacy, its his flat denial that it happened, followed by a non-retraction retraction.

    Since Obama is running as New Kind of Politician, this kind of grubby business-as-usual, tell-the-rubes-what-they-want-to-hear, wink-wink nudge-nudge stuff is especially damaging to him.

  4. This does have a way of taking Obama off his high horse very effectively.

  5. Goolsbee has vehemently denied saying anything differently than what the Obama campaign has been saying, which, to their credit, has been favorable to free trade in spirit even while being panderhappy. I’m willing to believe that Goolsbee talked to the Canadians without the campaign knowing about it largely because goolsbee is an academic, not a politician, and isn’t used to turning down chances to have people listen to him talk.

  6. RC is definitely on to something here. Obama had been flawlessly pulling off his saintly preacher act, but that requires something that would be virtually impossible, which would be never to get caught out like this.

    Once the shining armor gets dinged, that’s going to really kill him, methinks. Maybe I’m wrong and his groupies will keep fainting even if some shit sticks to him. But they seem like the type that need their dream politician to be perfect (in their eyes).

    For me, this is great because I really want to see the long knives come out at a Dem convention. If only the same could be done with the GOP.

  7. Any of us who have ever clicked ‘n’ learned can recognize the machinations of the Mexican government all over this obvious fealty to the future North American Union.

  8. You know, another story broke about this “scandal” today:

    Mr. Brodie, apparently seeking to play down the potential impact on Canada, told the reporters the threat was not serious, and that someone from Ms. Clinton’s campaign had even contacted Canadian diplomats to tell them not to worry because the NAFTA threats were mostly political posturing.

    The Canadian Press cited an unnamed source last night as saying that several people overheard the remark.

    The news agency quoted that source as saying that Mr. Brodie said that someone from Ms. Clinton’s campaign called and was “telling the embassy to take it with a grain of salt.”

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080305.wnafta06/EmailBNStory/National/home

    Perhaps someone would like to revise his remarks?

  9. Just to underline how serious this is: the Clerk of the Privy Council might have to call for investigation.

    Yeah. You read that right. THE Clerk of the Privy Council.

  10. 1. Back on 2/28, I noted that both BHO and She Who Will Be Our Leader were involved. The fact that everyone in the club simply concentrated on BHO is just a happy coinkydink.

    2. I continue to be the only blogger highlighting that Obama is quite the “free” trader, even indicating his support for Bush’s SPP scheme. Somewhere DavidRockefeller is smiling.

  11. No one expects the Clerk of the Privy Council!

  12. Clerk of the Privy Council?

    Yeah, I hit that…

  13. His main weapon is…uh…that’s got something to do with bathrooms, right?

  14. Joe, question:

    In your opinion this isn’t a real scandal because?

    1) All politicians pander.
    2) Obama is really anti NAFTA now, and always has been, always will be and nothing he has said ro done contradicts that
    3) The opposite of 2
    4) Something else?

  15. Wait, wait, I’ve got it:

    “Privy Council? Man, those Canadians regulate EVERYTHING!”

  16. Semm,

    1, obviously. The fact that neither candidated actually advocate for any substantive positions that they don’t support – like actual repeal, or the raising of tarrifs – but merely put empahsis on positions they’ve been talking about all along (re-opening negotiations to insert labor and environmental standards) prevents this from being a real scandal.

    I’ve heard that John McCain talks about work visas to Hispanic audiences and border fences to white audiences. This is what’s called “politics.”

  17. Knowing that the Clinton campaign was also in on the nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more is frankly surprising. One young politically green academic relieving the worries of a foreign representative is one thing. Two actual campaigns doing it is quite another.

    Why do the campaigns care what Canada thinks during the primaries? They have plenty of time later to correct the impression once they have the nomination in hand.

  18. “I’ve heard that John McCain talks about work visas to Hispanic audiences and border fences to white audiences. This is what’s called “politics.””

    That is true but everyone expects that from McCain and Clinton. Obama claims to be better than that and a new kind of politician. In this case Obama is a victim of his own good press.

  19. Of course they wont touch the trade agreements, how else do they expect local Whole Foods to get stocked.

    And if they bow to union pressure to reopen the agreements, Bolivia will ask, so, you want that crate of tangerines to go to Seattle or Beijing? Your choice.

  20. Other Canada related GOP News:

    “The Canadian political operative hired by the California Republican Party on a coveted H1B visa to do campaign consulting has been fired after it was revealed he was apparently working in violation of immigration law.”

    “The dismissal, announced this week, came after The Chronicle reported last month that Christopher Matthews apparently violated federal immigration law when he also earned money from a second employer.”

    “Matthews, a Canadian citizen, was hired last year as deputy political director for the California Republican Party, with responsibility for handling campaign operations and information technology for the country’s largest state GOP operation, U.S. Department of Labor records showed.”

    Source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/03/06/MNPJVEV3S.DTL

  21. John writes: That is true but everyone expects that from McCain and Clinton

    Hey! You take that back about Saint John, the Straight Talker!

    Them’s fightin’ words.

  22. Somehow I miss where the outrage is coming from. Politics is kind of a dirty business. Stick around long enough and someone is liable to dredge (or is that drudge?) up something that’ s embarrassing or contradictory. How you respond tells us more than the comment itself. Saint B of O hasn’t really passed this test with flying colors (that’s enough questions, please).

    Personally, I detest the kind of gotcha politics we are used to. I’ve always thought that pols were better attacked on their policies than their personalities or missteps. But I guess it’s been that way at least since the Jefferson-Adams contest, so I guess it’s ingrained.

    My impression of Saint B of O was formed early o by an ad I heard on XM. Someone asked an Obama supporter why they were supporting him. The answer was “he’s gonna bring change and reach across the aisle and”… sugary nonsense I don’t remember. I don’t think he’d be the worst thing that happened to the country, but I’d kind of like to see him tested a little before we anoint him the new King of Camelot. I’ll still vote for the LP candidate, but I’d at least like to know the guy can stand the heat before he’s given the keys to 1600. This doesn’t really engender a lot of confidence on my part.

  23. The last Obama scandal was that he might not have used enough drugs in college.

    I’m trying to figure out if this is more serious, less serious, or about the same.

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