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Memo on Barack Obama senior advisor's meeting with Canadian government on NAFTA (Austan Goolsbee)

As previously discussed, Barack Obama senior economic policy advisor Austan Goolsbee discussed the candidate's position on NAFTA with Canadian government officials, supposedly letting them know that his anti-NAFTA statements were simply political posturing. Now, a Canadian government memo on the meeting has been released, despite previous denials of such a meeting having taken place. A roundup of the various Clintonian-style denials is here and here.

For instance, on February 29, Goolsbee said "It is a totally inaccurate story... I did not call these people and I direct you to the press office."

Now, let's turn to the memo:
"[Goolsbee] was frank in saying that the primary campaign has been necessarily domestically focused, particularly in the Midwest, and that much of the rhetoric that may be perceived to be protectionist is more reflective of political maneuvering than policy... On NAFTA, Goolsbee suggested that Obama is less about fundamentally changing the agreement and more in favour of strengthening/clarifying language on labour mobility and environment and trying to establish these as more 'core' principles of the agreement...

...Noting anxiety among many U.S. domestic audiences about the U.S. economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign... He cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans."
Goolsbee, now admitting that the meeting took place, says they've mischaracterized his comments. There's certainly the possibility that he could be right: the Canadian government might be attempting to harm Obama's chances by releasing an inaccurate memo. That needs to be considered.

But, the fact that both Goolsbee and the Obama campaign haven't exactly been straightforward about this issue, and the fact that in general Obama is more or less a fake, carry more weight.

UPDATE: The tale of competing people who can't be trusted continues, as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says, "I certainly deny any allegation that this government has attempted to interfere in the American election". And, the Canadian Consulate says:
The Canadian Embassy and our Consulates General regularly contact those involved in all of the Presidential campaigns and, periodically, report on these contacts to interested officials. In the recent report produced by the Consulate General in Chicago, there was no intention to convey, in any way, that Senator Obama and his campaign team were taking a different position in public from views expressed in private, including about NAFTA. We deeply regret any inference that may have been drawn to that effect.
UPDATE 2: For perhaps the first time ever, the MSM has decided to ask Obama some tough questions. Why they'd start doing it now is unknown. However, he was asked not just about NAFTAGate but about his links to Tony Rezko as well, and it's now being presented as him "tangling" with the press who asked him a "barrage of questions" (link). There's video here.

UPDATE 3: A CBC report is here. Per the reporter, "the Canadian Embassy reviewed the diplomatic cable which was sent and acknowledges that they might have misrepresented the advisor". Who to trust?

UPDATE 4: "The Leader of Canada's New Democratic Party, Jack Layton, called today for the resignation of the Canadian Prime Minister's Chief of Staff over improper intervention in the US Democratic Primary race." The video here includes an unctuous reply from Stephen Harper.

Other tags: obama nafta

Politics · Mon, 03/03/2008 - 10:18 · Importance: 4