Publisher's Note: Jim Bispo's weekly column appears in the Beaufort Observer.
Have there been some "funny things" going on around the White House lately?? All of a sudden the Prez has been talking about the virtues of free trade. This after sitting on three free trade treaties (Columbia, Panama, & S. Korea) for almost three years. Did someone put a Hayek book on the Prez' reading list or perhaps Milton Friedman or Thomas Sowell?? It is certainly beginning to sound like it. And the Prez' latest pronouncements begin to sound as though these authors were not only added to the reading list but that he read them and is beginning to see the light. But then there is always the possibility that he is simply doing what he normally does so well - and that is to say what he believes the great majority of the voters want to hear.
First we have the anointed one "sitting on" free trade agreements with Columbia, S. Korea, and Panama for three years; then he submits them to the Congress with his not only predictable but repetitively ignored behest that they (Congress) need to get on with approving them. Perhaps it was the three year delay that suddenly created the urgency. Or perhaps, it was the fact that several other countries had negotiated free trade agreements with Columbia, Panama, & S. Korea and those these countries are beginning to reap the rewards that normally accompany such agreements while we sit here in a morass of totally unworkable Keynesian philosophy (if that really matters to him).
So what happened with the free trade agreements?? He sent them to Congress and they were approved.. They were signed on Oct. 21, 2011 but have not yet been implemented. What do you suppose we are waiting for?? What do you suppose all that "Lets get on with approving these" rhetoric was all about. Get 'em approved to mollify the so called "undecided" voters but don't bother implementing them to mollify the unions and others who believe that free trade is bad for us. Is that what you call a presidential tight wire act??
He did the same with Obamacare. He didn't "invent" it or send it to the Congress but he certainly kept after them to get something passed. .He did the same thing with his so called "jobs bill". He has been creating an humongous carbon footprint with his AF-1 travels all over the country touting the need to get on with approving his jobs bill. In case you were wondering, it costs the taxpayers about $180K per flight hour for AF-1; the ancillary aircraft that always accompany him cost extra.
Now what we are seeing is the Prez in Hawaii beating the bushes for even more free trade. Free trade has hardly been a Progressive rallying cry. But, it begins to look like the Davids (Plouffe and Axelrod) have decided that's the way to get some of the middle of the road voters who seem to be bailing on the Prez lately back into the fold. Reportedly, it is the middle of the road folks who will likely determine the outcome of the 2012 elections so we better throw them a bone (so much for Hayek, Friedman, or Sowell). It is either that or an effort to divert our attention away from Europe and their problems (or both). If we can focus the voters' attention on the Pacific, perhaps the European crisis will go away - or at least we can get Americans to quit worrying about it and the implications of an outright European meltdown. If we remain focused on Europe it is only a matter of time until even the most gullible of us will figure out that the Obama economic model is the same as the failed European models that have precipitated the problems in the first place. Best we get the American public focusing on something else - like free trade agreements with Pacific rim countries.
The other day we heard the Prez' mouthpiece, Jay Carney, tell us that the pull-out from Iraq was simply the Prez keeping his campaign promise. Well, it seems that no matter what color you paint the pullout it would not likely have happened if the anointed one had been able to negotiate an extension with PM al-Maliki. He couldn't, so now he is fulfilling a campaign promise. Yeah, by default.
It seems as though he is keeping another of his campaign promises when he shuts down the Keystone XL pipeline project until at least after the next election. This time, even in the face of his much ballyhooed "We Can't Wait" campaign, he seems to be keeping his "Oh Yes We Can" mantra. I rather doubt that many of the 2008 voters who anointed him thought that "Oh Yes We Can" meant that we could subordinate the interests of our country to his own political ambitions. It begins to look as though they were wrong.