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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.

Originally posted to RFK Lives on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 07:48 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

    by RFK Lives on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 07:48:05 AM PST

    •  trouble is (7+ / 0-)

      Obama is even more enthusiastic about Globaization than the Clintons.

      I will make them have it. I will stuff their mouths with Gold!--Aneurin Bevan (on the NHS)

      by Salo on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 07:50:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Accord (8+ / 0-)

        No daylight between Obama and Clinton on these issues.  So those concerned about them should be as skeptical of Obama as they are about Clinton.  

      •  Obama and HRC are pretty similar on trade (5+ / 0-)

        although he has, at least, criticized NAFTA.  While Obama's public career has, obviously, been much shorter than the  Clintons', he has yet to consciously alienate a core party constituency.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 07:53:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely ... (5+ / 0-)

        As a starry-eyed free-trade enthusiast recently wrote about Obama:

        Whereas Clinton has recently taken to pulling protectionist stunts and rethinking the fundamental theoretical soundness of free trade, and Edwards is behaving like the love child of Huey Long and Pat Buchanan, Obama instinctively supports free trade and grasps the universe of possibilities that globalisation opens up, and seamlessly integrates it into his "audacity of hope" theme. As he remarked in a recent debate: "Globalisation is here, and I don't think Americans are afraid to compete. And we have the goods and the services and the skills and the innovation to compete anywhere in the world."


        •  JRE ala 'love child of Huey Long and Pat Buchanan (0+ / 0-)

          Exactly :)

          •  You really are (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            votermom, cjallen

            a "nuevo liberal". Which is fine--just don't pretend to be an inch to the left of the DLC.

            •  Talking of DLC, here are JRE's DLC credentials: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              John Edwards:

              1. was a member of the Senate New Democrat Coalition (the senate arm of the DLC). link.
              1. was a member of the Senate "Centrist" Coalition with the likes of Lieberman, Zell Miller and McCain. link
              1. attended the DLC annual meeting in 2002 along with Lieberman, Hillary etal.
              1. co-sponsored Lieberman's war resolution along with  John McCain and DLC friends Zell Miller and Evan Bayh.
              •  What is your point? .. (0+ / 0-)

                he obviously has seen the error of his ways .. besides .. the DLC took to pumping up Obama as one of its own ...


                Yeah, I know Obama asked to have his name taken off their website ... but why is this still up then?

                •  That's a debunked story (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  RFK Lives

                  Barack Obama:

                  And although I believe that free trade - when also fair - can benefit workers in both rich and poor nations, I think that the current NAFTA regime lacks the worker and environmental protections that are necessary for the long-term prosperity of both America and its trading partners.  I would therefore favor, at minimum, a significant renegotiation of NAFTA and the terms of the President’s fast track authority.

                  You are undoubtedly correct that these positions make me an unlikely candidate for membership in the DLC.  That is why I am not currently, nor have I ever been, a member of the DLC.  As I stated in my previous letter, I agreed to be listed as "100 to watch" by the DLC.  That’s been the extent of my contact with them.  It does appear that, without my knowledge, the DLC also listed me in their "New Democrat" directory.  Because I agree that such a directory implies membership, I will be calling the DLC to have my name removed, and appreciate your having brought this fact to my attention.

                  Posting debunked stories is not a good practice.

            •  trying to jab/smear with this is (0+ / 0-)

              completely false, and pathetic. "just don't pretend to be an inch to the left of the DLC."

              I oppose just about every damn thing the DLC did since 2001, as one can check in my comment history. I don't think they were ever really relevant, except for Clinton's centrist tendencies during the 90s, but I think his triangulation had a lot do with Dick Morris (who has been an associate of Bill Clinton since 78).

              I am not a politician or a political operative, and needless to say, I have never been associated with the DLC in any way, shape of form.

              If you're talking about trade, my views are similar to what Obama says. Fair trade can be potential beneficial to both poor and rich countries, but making trade fair takes some effort.

              I and Obama are honest about our trade views. OTOH, Edwards is a faker on trade. His actual views and record are substantially pro-trade, but he pretends to be Kucinich/Buchanan at primary time. That's totally phony, and probably one of the things that ticks off Feignold about JRE. Nope, JRE doesn't get to say "my bad" on everything that's inconvenient for his new 2008 incarnation and get away with it. Since his only political experience in his senate record, that's what he should be judged on. I summarize it as:
              -- only slightly to the left of DLC/centrist/moderate on domestic issues
              -- neo-conservative on foreign policy

              •  to clarify (0+ / 0-)

                we should look to making mutually beneficial fair trade with other countries and work honestly and diligently to make the transaction fair and helpful to our labor and unions as well as friendly towards the environment. Perhaps even use it as a tool of leverage towards reducing global warming in the decades to come.

                It's the details that make trade fair. Those we approach with an honest application of our objectives to improve things for workers (at both ends) and the environment.

          •  hardly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I will make them have it. I will stuff their mouths with Gold!--Aneurin Bevan (on the NHS)

            by Salo on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:17:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  My point was the politics, not the policy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joe shikspack

          I'm familiar w/ Obama's views on trade.  My hope is that Obama won't openly fracture the Dem coalition on this issue.  I know that the Clintons already did, and their fracturing of the coalition now is, as per Yogi Berra, like deja vu all over again.

          Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

          by RFK Lives on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:12:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I guess my answer would be ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            To what extent can we separate Hillary's politics from the politics of her husband? It's a hard question to resolve, at least for me. I mean, Hillary never voted for NAFTA--what she did do was fail at health care reform (the writing was on the wall well before it came to a vote), which was what caused Bill to turn his attention to NAFTA so that he could chalk up a "legislative victory."

            And I do agree that NAFTA's passage fractured the Dem coalition--I think it was much more instrumental than Gringrich's "Contract with America" in sealing the Democratic defeat of 1994.

            So I guess I do agree with the main thrust of your diary, if your point is to assail Bill Clinton for pushing NAFTA.

            •  The 2d sentence of your 1st para makes no sense (0+ / 0-)

              As my diary explained, the NAFTA vote occurred before health care was even introduced.  Are you stating that HRC's health plan was dead before it was even introduced?

              The record is clear--the Clinton WH chose to push NAFTA first and health care 2d*.  Since HRC is campaigning on her experience in that WH, and since "Billary" reappeared in SC, it's kind of hard to separate her politics from his.

              *David Bonior, a top advisor to Krugman's favored candidate, has always argued that thesis.

              Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

              by RFK Lives on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:36:32 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Short Answer: yes (0+ / 0-)

                I think you can check out what newspapers at the time had to say (I would but I'm at work). Hillary's health care reform was dying a slow death--the "Harry and Louise" ads were having an effect, even Patrick Moynahan (one of the most overrated "statesmen" ever) came out against her plan. And that's when Clinton decide to push NAFTA, which he know he could get through Congress.

                I hope someone can either confirm or reject my memory.

                Since HRC is campaigning on her experience in that WH, and since "Billary" reappeared in SC, it's kind of hard to separate her politics from his.

                That's true, and I'm not a Hillary booster, but does she really get assigned equal blame for all of Bill's actions in the WH? I find that a bit unfair.

                •  The NAFTA push started 2-3 months before (0+ / 0-)

                  the vote.  The decision to make the push, presumably, predated the push itself.  What you're saying, in essence, is that HRC's health care plan was already DOA 6-7 months after they took office.  If you're correct, that doesn't say much for her political skills.

                  Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

                  by RFK Lives on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:56:22 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I can ony give you this short timeline ... (0+ / 0-)

                    in reverse chronological order:

                    Nov. 17, 1993 - House approves North American Free Trade Agreement – one of President Clinton's priorities.

                    Nov. 3, 1993 - Brady Bill enacted.

                    Oct. 3, 1993 - Humanitarian mission to Somalia turns into warfare as United Nations forces battle Somali warlord Aidid. A total of 18 Americans are killed.

                    Sept. 23, 1993 - Health care reform proposal presented to Congress.


                    As I said, I may be remembering it wrong, but it sure seemed to me at the time that NAFTA only became a legislative priority for Clinton after it became clear that the health care reform proposal was going nowhere.

                    •  Krugman said health care was presented 11/20 (0+ / 0-)

                      not 9/23.  Either Krugman or CBS are incorrect.  Regardless, the decision to mount an all out assault for NAFTA was made prior to either of those dates, as the treaty was hotly debated for 2-3 months.

                      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

                      by RFK Lives on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 10:40:44 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The truth appears to be somewhere in between (0+ / 0-)

                        Here's a better timeline, and more info, from Wikipedia.

                        Once in office, Bill Clinton quickly set up the Task Force on National Health Care Reform, headed by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, to come up with a comprehensive plan to provide universal health care for all Americans, which was to be a cornerstone of the administration's first-term agenda. A major health care speech was delivered by Clinton to a joint session of Congress on September 22, 1993,[6] with an overwhelmingly positive response.


                        Starting on September 28, 1993, Hillary Clinton appeared for several days of testimony before five congressional committees on health care.[7] Opponents of the bill organized against it before it was presented to the Democratic- controlled Congress on November 20, 1993.[7] The bill was a complex proposal running more than 1,000 pages, the core element of which was an enforced mandate for employers to provide health insurance coverage to all of their employees through competitive but closely-regulated health maintenance organizations (HMOs). The full text of the November 20 bill (the "Health Security Act") is available online.[16]

                        Conservatives, libertarians, and the insurance industry staged a campaign against the "Health Security" plan and criticized it as being overly bureaucratic and restrictive of patient choice.[17] The effort included extensive advertising criticizing the plan, including the famous Harry and Louise ad paid for by the Health Insurance Association of America, which depicted a middle-class couple despairing over the plan's supposed complex, bureaucratic nature.[8][18] Time, CBS News, CNN, the Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor ran stories questioning whether there really was a health-care crisis.[19] Op-eds were written against it, including one in The Washington Post by University of Virginia Professor Martha Derthick that said:

                        "In many years of studying American social policy, I have never read an official document that seemed so suffused with coercion and political naivete ... with its drastic prescriptions for controlling the conduct of state governments, employers, drug manufacturers, doctors, hospitals and you and me.[20]"

                        U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan qualified his agreement that "there is no health care crisis" by stating "there is an insurance crisis" but also indicated "anyone who thinks [the Clinton health care plan] can work in the real world as presently written isn't living in it."[21] Meanwhile, Democrats, instead of uniting behind the President's original proposal, offered a number of competing plans of their own. Some criticized the plan from the left, preferring a Canadian-style single payer system.

                        I also think you are wrong about the 2-3 month push leading to NAFTA's passage. For instance, the famous Gore-Perot debate on NAFTA only took place on November 8, well after critics of the health-care reform proposal had begun their attacks. The bill itself had been slated to be brought before congress before Clinton was elected.

                        •  I forgot the link ... (0+ / 0-)


                        •  Krugman's correct--the full bill was presented (0+ / 0-)

                          on 11/20--3 days after NAFTA was passed by the House, and the very day it was passed by the Senate.  Given the political climate you've cited, WJC should've, as others noted here, used NAFTA as a means of blunting corporate opposition to health care.  Alientating labor to appease corporate interests while not getting a reciprocal agreement from corporate interests not to thwart health care was political stupidity of the highest magnitude.

                          Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

                          by RFK Lives on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 11:25:55 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't disagree ... (0+ / 0-)

                            You're talking to another Edwards supporter here. Although I do think that the proposed health-care reform was doomed to defeat, no matter how much horse-trading Bill might have been able to perform behind the scenes.

                            But I still don't know how much blame to apportion to Hillary for mistakes made during Bill's first term. Not that it matters. I'm voting for Edwards in any case because he's got the platform I like.

      •  Edwards voted for China MFN and (0+ / 0-)

        Obama voted against CAFTA. Those two are their major trade votes.

        Obama did better.

    •  Krugman is a (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      beltane, bmozaffari, Mojo Jojo


      One can't simultaneously be an honest economist and a poltical hack.

      Fortunately for us, Krugman has given up his economist gimmick in favor of his truer political hack self.

    •  That should have taught Democrats (4+ / 0-)

      a lesson about compromising with republicans.

      I'm sure part of the reason Clinton was so gung ho to pass NAFTA was that he thought they might throw him a bone on the healthcare plan in return.  

      When it didn't happen, he should have raised holy hell with the electorate.  Instead, Clinton decided he liked capitulating on pro corporate legislislation that republicans wanted, and signed his name to the repeal of Glass Steagall and the media consolidation bill in ensuing years, just to name a few.

      Anyone who expects a progressive government from his wife is deluding themselves.

      "I'd rec you if I could." - cometman

      by cometman on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:11:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The discussion at the time was (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that if Clinton pushed Health Care first, he would not have enough political capital to then pass NAFTA.  I never understood this argument at the time but I have a distinct recollection of this because I was doing a lot of research at the time on the issue.

  •  Bill also pulled his campaign finance (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dump Terry McAuliffe, RFK Lives

    reform guy from that task to work on NAFTA.  We all know about Bill's subsequent history with campaign finance.  Ah-Chung!

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 07:55:35 AM PST

  •  Why didn't the Clintons tie the NAFTA vote (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RFK Lives, Pegasus

    to healthcare?   I'm as naive as politics as anyone, but wouldn't that have been what someone like LBJ would have done?  I'll deliver the NAFTA votes, if you are willing to move on healthcare.  That way, the working classes would have gotten something out of the NAFTA debacle.  I'm beginning to wonder if the Clintons are the expert politicians they are supposed to be.

    •  the boom (0+ / 0-)

      of th enineties mitigated the lack of any reform.

      I will make them have it. I will stuff their mouths with Gold!--Aneurin Bevan (on the NHS)

      by Salo on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:00:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes but if healthcare was Hillary's big, big (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RFK Lives

        project, why didn't they use every leverage that they had?  

        •  I'm not defending her. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm pointing out what happened. The issue was kicked down the road.

          Infact what happened is that the relative cost of care became more affordable for long enough that th eoutcry for reform was neutralized.

          Healthcare became more "affordable" for long enough that no one cared strongly.

          We are now entering another round of reform where people will substitute structural reform for promises of affordability.

          I will make them have it. I will stuff their mouths with Gold!--Aneurin Bevan (on the NHS)

          by Salo on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:04:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  But at the point at which NAFTA was voted upon, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RFK Lives

            and when the healthcare bill was introduced, nobody knew that that would happen.  I'm asking why didn't these two consummate politicians see the point of coupling these two, very controversial, measures?  Pass both, or pass neither.  What happened later in the decade doesn't effect the ineffectiveness they displayed at that moment.

            •  They went down the route of affordability (0+ / 0-)

              which the paty is about about to repeat. They ydecided structural reform was too much to get done.  Same conclusion that Obama has already reached.

              I will make them have it. I will stuff their mouths with Gold!--Aneurin Bevan (on the NHS)

              by Salo on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:10:03 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  So Hillary's health plan (0+ / 0-)

                was a mere gesture, and was never intended seriously.  That's the inference to be drawn from what you are saying.  Passing NAFTA was important, and passing heallthcare reform was not.  Otherwise, if the NAFTA vote and the healthcare plan introduction were so closely linked in time, why didn't they use one to leverage the other?

                •  No (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Bartimaeus Blue, cybrestrike

                  It was a serious proposal that was torpedoed by the insurance lobby.

                  I will make them have it. I will stuff their mouths with Gold!--Aneurin Bevan (on the NHS)

                  by Salo on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:14:46 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Of course the insurance lobby wanted (0+ / 0-)

                    to kill the plan.  That's why you would want to use the influence of all the lobbyists pushing NAFTA to counterbalance the insurance lobbyists.  By tying healthcare reform to NAFTA passage, the Clintons would have had a much better shot at passing healthcare reform.  Why didn't they?

                  •  OF course the insurance lobby wanted (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RFK Lives

                    to kill the plan.  But the Clintons could have used the weight of all the other lobbyists pushing for NAFTA to get some sort of health care reform passed, over the insurance lobby's objections.  That's what politics is about.  You vote for this, and I'll support that.  Why didn't they make this connection?

                •  B/c they don't share Krugman's political approach (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Which was the core point I was trying to make.  Triangulation is the antithesis of Krugman's fundamental philosophy, as are Morris, Penn, McAuliffe, and all the others.  

                  Krugman appears to be letting his personal pique about Obama blind him to the parameters of the choice that now exists in the Dem race.

                  Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

                  by RFK Lives on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:17:48 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  Your last sentence above answers that question (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joe shikspack, cybrestrike

          I've always retained my doubts about their famed political skills.  SC reawakened those doubts.  They could've written the state off weeks ago, taken a thumping of a similar margin, and not alienated the AA community, Ted K, and a lot of others.

          Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

          by RFK Lives on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:05:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  They are playing a mercurial game... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RFK Lives, joe shikspack, cybrestrike

            They are prodding Obama into being the black candidate. Which is offensive to me.

            They are expecting a white backlash on the 5th.

            I will make them have it. I will stuff their mouths with Gold!--Aneurin Bevan (on the NHS)

            by Salo on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:08:44 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If they're expecting a white backlash... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RFK Lives

              ...I think they're going to get some of that, but getting that by a large margin is probably not going to happen.  I know whites who were offended by their behavior in SC, and that can't bode too well for them on the 5th.  Will that translate into a transfer of support from Clinton to Obama?  I don't think it'll be enough, but it'll open some eyes.  Especially if the MSM won't let the story 'die'.

              "It's better to vote for what you want, and not get it, than to vote for what you don't want, and get it." Eugene Debs, 1912.

              by cybrestrike on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:11:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  It seemed to me thus far... (0+ / 0-)

            ...That the Clintons relied on old school tactics to win, and in this day and age, that doesn't work anymore.  Howard Dean started a new way of campaigning, and Obama picked up the torch and ran with it, improving it along the way.

            "It's better to vote for what you want, and not get it, than to vote for what you don't want, and get it." Eugene Debs, 1912.

            by cybrestrike on Mon Jan 28, 2008 at 08:09:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Where does Krugman stand (0+ / 0-)

    with Edwards?  Does he see any reason to support any of Edwards positions?  Or has he completely written Edwards off?  

  •  As to alienating a core constituency . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Labor got what it deserved in 2008.  Who did the Iowa unions endorse?  Did they draw a line in the sand and stand by their most loyal advocate the past four years?  No.  They made political decision based upon conventional wisdom and back what who they thought would win the nomination.  Instead of backing the Hamilton Project Corporate Democrats, they could have possibly turned Iowa into a real battleground by fighting for Edwards.  Oh well.

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