Not long ago I mentioned in a post that I thought it unproductive, at the very least, for the Democrats to continue with their obstruction of the free trade agreement with Colombia. The two Democrat Presidential candidates are opposed to the agreement to pander to labor unions. No surprise there in a political season. President Bush is finally sending a bill to Congress to push the agreement along. Needless to say, if he waited for the do-nothing Congress, nothing would be done.
My mention of the free trade agreement in a previous post was in relationship to the police in that country rounding up and foiling a future terror plot with a group in possession of all the ingredients for a 'dirty' bomb. The group taking credit for the developing plot, FARC, is a well-known narco-terrorist group in Latin and South America. You may recognize the group in connection to former President Clinton's last minute pardons of some Puerto Rican members of the gang as Hillary ramped up her first run for New York Senator. Pandering to the Puerto Rican voters in New York as a bit of a reward for Hillary's saving his bacon on Capitol Hill during impeachment time.
Hillary and Obama are both on record as opposed to the free trade agreement with Columbia, our strongest friend in South America. Colombia has done yeoman's work the past 10 years to clean up corruption and violence in the nation. Doesn't warrant any reward by the Democrats in this country, though. What isn't being said is that both candidates have sent representatives to Colombia to be advised on the situation. Hillary's guy, Mark Penn, is now out of a campaign position due to the conflict of interest between his campaign strategist gig and that of working for the Colombian government to get the agreement pushed through.
Penn, though not paid by the campaign, his firm Burson-Marsteller, was being paid a $300,000 contract by the Colombian government to promote free trade. After the story broke about his conflict of interest and Hillary's anger over it all, Penn resigned as chief strategist and advisor. His firm will still conduct polling for the campaign, however. Frankly, I'm surprised he lasted this long. Never mind the conflict of interest, the guy was not the best of strategists. By insisting on holding on to the strategy that Hillary was the experienced, inevitable candidate, there was no plan after Super Duper Tuesday. The campaign arrogantly presumed it would be all over and she would have the nomination wrapped up.
The really interesting story not so widely reported, though, is that the former head of President Clinton's National Economic Council, Gene Sperling, now Hillary's closest economic advisor, has a new book out. In "The Pro-Growth Progressive", Sperling argues in favor of free trade and NAFTA. Hillary's claims that she was always against NAFTA fall false in light of her appointment schedules released recently during her First Lady days. Sperling also claims credit in the recently released book for clearing the way for China to join the World Trade Organization.
A frequent criticism of the Dems about John McCain is his knowledge of economics. McCain admits the economy is less his strong suit than, say, foreign policy or military issues. McCain is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as former chair for many years of the Senate Committee for Commerce, Science and Transportation. The latter being the Senate's largest committee. So, it's not like he has no knowledge of the economy.
Alan Greenspan has now endorsed McCain. Not Hillary or Obama, both of whom spoke favorably of Greenspan in comments on the trail when they each thought it would bolster a remark.
Remember on the campaign trail in Ohio when conservative radio talk show host Bill Cunningham was warming up a rally crowd for McCain and he used Obama's full name? He used the middle name, Hussein, that everyone is so touchy about? What did McCain do? Though he was not on stage at the time, he was backstage talking with others, he did hear about the introduction and promptly told the crowd that he apologized for the use of Obama's full name and didn't condone derogatory remarks. He did that immediately, before he even began his speech.
Fast forward to a fundraiser in Fargo, North Dakota Friday for Obama. Liberal radio talk show host Ed Schultz introduced Obama to the audience, along with introductions by the state's three Democrats in Congress. As McCain wasn't at the time of his introduction, Obama was not in the room. Schultz referred to John McCain as a "warmonger". Obama, on stage, thanked Schultz and called him "the voice of progressive radio." Then, on Saturday, Obama's campaign repudiated the comment. A day later and not by the candidate but by a statement from his campaign. Quite telling in my book.
The candidate of change, the candidate holding himself up as someone of higher character than the average politician, a new kind of politician, falls far short. Again.
John McCain rightly called for an apology. From NewsBusters.org : "It's a free country and we have freedom of speech in America and Mr. Schultz is entitled to his views. I would hope that in keeping with his commitment that...Sen. Obama would condemn such language since it was part of his campaign," Mr. McCain told reporters in Prescott, Ariz. "That kind of thing I don't think is necessary at all in this campaign. I've made very clear how I feel about war and my experiences with it."
McCain continues to call for a 'respectful' campaign season.