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Published: Saturday, 3/1/2008

NAFTA & The Dems: Another View

SATURDAY

7 PM

One real downside to being felled by illness during the week before the state primary is missing so many days of political news.

For much of this week, my eyes hurt too much to read and my ears couldn t tolerate much television noise. So while Hillary and Barack ratcheted up their campaigns in Ohio and Texas, I lay in bed marinating in my feverish flu stew, uninformed and outta the loop.

Spent a few hours today trying to play catch-up, and came across this post at one of my favorite blogs, by former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich.

Guy s not only wicked smart, but he writes so clearly, so plainly. It is always a pleasure to read him, and this particular post published under the headline Hillary and Barack, Afta Nafta -- should snag the interest of any Ohioan who feels walloped by free trade.

Was Hillary Clinton really against NAFTA in 1993? I was in the administration then, and I remember her position quite precisely. And I'll get to that in a moment. But before I do, I want to say something: It s a shame the Democratic candidates for president feel they have to make trade specifically NAFTA the enemy of blue-collar workers and the putative cause of their difficulties. NAFTA is not to blame.

The Democratic candidates are missing the point, says Mr. Reich, in all their talk of renegotiating NAFTA. The better discussion is how to help Americans adapt to a new economy in which no job is safe.

If the ship is sinking, in other words, better start bailing instead of arguing over whether to patch the stern or the bow.

Plus, it s interesting to see if Mr. Reich s memory of Hillary s early NAFTA stance matches up with what the candidate now says was her private opposition.



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