Others have addressed Krugman's column today critiquing Obama's approach. No diary, however, has addressed the column's gaping NAFTA omission. Krugman addresses the failure of HRC's health care plan by correctly noting:
Mr. Clinton didn't deliver legislation to Congress until November 20, 1993--by which time the momentum from his electoral victory had evaporated, and opponents had had plenty of time to organize against him.
Krugman, however, fails to note what WJC was doing at exactly the same time--he was moving heaven and earth to get GHWB's NAFTA abomination passed. The final House NAFTA vote was on 11/17/93, and the final Senate vote was on 11/20/93. That's right, the 2 final NAFTA votes took place, respectively, 3 days before and on the very day that HRC's health care plan was introduced.
For those of us who still recall, NAFTA, our main memory of it was that the Clinton WH openly kicked labor in the shins in order to get it passed. It was the political equivalent of GWB openly kicking the Fortune 500 in the shins in order to get a treaty that was negotiated by WJC passed. Forget NAFTA's dubious "merits"--what first year president consciously chooses to alienate a core party constituency when he knows that he'll need the support of that constituency to get health care passed?
Sadly, recent events in the prez campaign, esp in SC, make it clear that the Clintons learned nothing from that grevious error. Whatever one may think about the merits/demerits of the Obama campaign, SC confirmed the fact that an equally loyal party constituency is incredibly enthused about his campaign. The kinds of attacks, accordingly, that have been launched against that campaign as the race tightened have inevitably alienated the AA community just as much as the NAFTA battle alienated labor.
Yes, as Krugman notes in today's column, the right wing attack machine doesn't give a damn whether a Dem tries to extend an olive branch to it. Yes, as Krugman has made clear on a number of occasions, the goal "of moving past partisan differences" may be unattainable given the basic philosophical orientation of the GOP. Yes, serious questions persist about the likely efficacy of Obama's approach.
Given such a context, however, why should any Dem ever consciously alienate a core party constituency? Even worse, why should a former First Couple repeat that mistake as they attempt to regain that status? If our adversaries are what Krugman (correctly) believes them to be, doesn't it behoove us to make sure that we maintain loyalties on our side? How do the Clintons intend to build a majority coalition for the GE campaign when they're visibly fracturing that coalition now?
I religiously read Krugman every Monday and every Friday. I'm currently reading his book. I share some of his concerns about the Obama platform. I think, however, that his obvious NAFTA omission greatly undermined today's column.