Yesterday, Barack Obama’s camp released a statement trying to slam John McCain’s current trip to South America. It read: “Senator McCain’s trip to Mexico and Colombia just underscores his insistence on continuing George Bush’s failed economic policies that have left nearly 2.5 million more workers unemployed, including unfair trade deals that have been written by lobbyists.”
Well, the crusty old warhorse may be gaining on Mr. International in the global community, after all. Contrary to what Obama wants you to believe, McCain got a healthy burst of support from Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe yesterday. Uribe, who’s made admirable progress on the issue of human rights in Colombia, said he wants John McCain to be the next president of the United States. No real surprise here, as Obama’s free trade-aversion would merely punish Columbia in the name of new Democratic isolationism. At a news conference in Cartagena, McCain said, “I would like to see a hemispheric free trade agreement. I would like to see our continued assistance to countries like Colombia.”
Obama seems unable to attack important McCain positions from an angle reflecting serious analysis. Railing against “unfair trade deals that have been written by lobbyists” may score Obama points among the anti-globalization fringe, but it doesn’t address the concerns of budding global economies looking to do business. Furthermore, it completely ignores the potential benefits such deals bring to U.S. companies and individuals. As McCain implied yesterday, if tariffs are dropped on U.S. exports more American jobs are created.
As we’ve seen on the questions of Iraq withdrawal and talk with Ahmadinejad, Obama has a hard time transitioning from slogans to policies, from the idea to the thing itself. Obama may be learning that postures are dangerous. An anti-free trade stance is more than a campus-friendly gesture; it’s a barrier to the pursuit of well-being the world over. And that’s not the kind of change the planet is looking for.