Monday, January 19, 2004

A Strange Enthusiasm

Brad DeLong seems to think that all of the leading candidates in the Democratic primary "are of the quality to be a very good president" - a stance towards which I find myself shaking my head in puzzlement. How can DeLong, as a committed free-trader, and one who played a personal role in the administration that gave us NAFTA, give his blessings to the likes of Howard Dean, who would cripple the competitiveness of Third World countries by imposing crippling labor and environmental standards on them? In his own words "We ought not to be in the business of having free and open borders with countries that don't have the same environmental, labor and human rights standards." How can Brad DeLong endorse the candidacy of John Edwards, who supported the very same steel tariffs DeLong castigated Bush for, who voted against the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and who even the Daily Kos regards as an arch-protectionist? How can Brad DeLong in good conscience endorse the candidacy of a knuckle-dragging anti-free-trader like Dick Gephardt, who agitates for an international minimum wage, who rejected NAFTA, who voted against a trade agreement with Chile, and who has always been staunchly opposed to granting China MFN status?

Bush has a terrible record on free-trade issues, and his fiscal profligacy threatens to mire future generations of America in debt, but I fail to see how the likes of John Edwards, Howard Dean and Richard Gephardt would in any way be improvements on him; where Bush at least pretends to virtue on trade, these Democratic candidates wear their antagonism to unfettered free-trade with pride, as if it were a medal of honor. Opposition to Bush's remaining in office I can certainly understand, but actual enthusiasm for these three individuals? As far as I'm concerned, there are only two Democrats in the race whose positions on trade issues are in any way supportable - Joe Lieberman and John Kerry. The rest are enemies of the American consumer and the Third World poor at worst, and shameless panderers to the extreme left at best.