Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Obamawatch: Priorities

Posted by sanityinjection on June 4, 2009

I note that President Obama found the time to go to Egypt and give a foreign policy speech in which he broke no new ground and announced nothing new, but apparently his Administration can’t find the time to move forward on a free trade agreement that has already been negotiated with Panama:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23320.html

In the President’s Cairo speech, he said at one point: “It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.” If that is the President’s position, then again I must ask why his Administration is holding up the Panama agreement.

Here is what everyone knows to be true: Free trade agreements with other nations – especially smaller ones like Panama – inevitably benefit our economy. One only need look at the gradual dismantling of trade tariffs over the last six decades and the corresponding increase in prosperity in the US. Protectionists – most notably the unions – screech that free trade agreements will mean lower wages and worse working conditions for US workers. In fact, there is zero evidence of any such thing happening in the wake of any free trade agreement. They told us NAFTA would destroy American workers and send jobs to Mexico. That didn’t happen either. In fact, free trade agreements have brought foreign companies to the US and created jobs here, offsetting those that have gone overseas. Finally, let us not forget the lessons of history – the legacy of the Smoot-Hawley tariff should have put protectionism to bed long ago. 

So I challenge the President to follow his own dictum, and push for ratification of not only the Panama agreement, but the languishing Colombia agreement as well. And any other painstakingly negotiated bilateral trade agreements languishing on the desks of bureaucrats.

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9 Responses to “Obamawatch: Priorities”

  1. sanityinjection said

    Update: Now Obama is claiming that his speeches constitute “progress” in the Middle East peace process!

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23388.html

    “You’ve probably seen more sustained activity on this issue in the first five months than you would have seen in most previous administrations,” says Obama. No, Mr. President, what I’ve seen is more running around the world giving empty speeches to try to make the world love us rather than focusing on doing your job, than we would have seen in any previous Administration.

    Apparently, the President’s definition of Middle East “progress” is a bit different from that held by the Israelis and Palestinians, both of whom generally feel things are worse now than they’ve been in a while. Great job, Barack. It’s one thing to spout platitudes, but it’s another thing to crow about it as if you’ve solved a real problem. Quit patting yourself on the back and do something useful. You’re embarrassing our country.

  2. Ms. D said

    I’m surprised to hear you take this stand. It’s as if our “relations” are not as important as our “jobs.” Sure, the policies are what drive change, but George W. really did everything in his power to make this country look ridiculous. Obama has a tough job of picking up those pieces. Maybe he is slow to make real change in the way of policies that you support, but you can’t really deny the incredible impact that nice-ities and attempts to reconcile can make in relationships in general. Our relationships with other countries are really no different than all relationships, that first must start with apologies if there has been error, then some courting and nice words, and then actions to cement the relationship. At least, thank goodness, our new president is well spoken (which is a HUGE part of how the world views us) and less likely to do further damage to our reputation, even when he hasn’t had much time in office to implement what will be the glue that eventually mends our relationships with other countries.

    I’m also surprised that you feel his speeches were empty, when in fact, according to NPR, numerous countries reported feeling much better about our country in general with the new president. Maybe there are no actions behind his words YET but one can hardly dismiss the importance of the way the rest of the world feels about what is to come.

  3. Ms. D said

    And yes I am a fool to even begin with politics with you, since you outsmart me in every way, but I just thought I’d throw it out there 🙂

  4. sanityinjection said

    Ms. D, your opinions are always welcome here. Of course our relations with other countries are important. And certainly the Bush Administration made its share of misakes. But the Obama Administration seems to believe – or would have us believe – that niceties are a substitute for policy. Peace in the Middle East will not be achieved because Barack Obama says the Israelis should stop building settlements and that he supports a Palestinian state. Every President since Nixon has said that and nothing has been accomplished, yet Obama acts as if he’s done something groundbreaking. Meanwhile, he actually has an opportunity to accomplish something with the free trade agreements, and instead lets them gather dust. There comes apoint at which you can talk all you want but no one will take you seriously anymore if you do nothing to back it up.

    I would also caution you on believing anything you hear about world or domestic opinion from NPR, since they are careful to only present the side they want you to hear.

  5. Ms. D said

    I personally think it is very hard to get all the facts from reading or listening to just about anything. I can’t think of a place where I can find the whole story beginning to end, all sides presented. Even historical accounts are skewed. Mainstream news tends to be very liberal. NPR is the best that I have found so far, as they frequently report worldwide news and broadcast several different types of opinions from what I can tell by listening. Where do you go to hear unbias, full story coverage? I have no idea, enlighten me! I will go there also 🙂

  6. sanityinjection said

    I get most of my news on the Internet, because it’s easy to check multiple sources quickly. However, in terms of other media, I find my local news radio station tends to be less biased and sensationalist than TV or newspapers.

    You’re right that NPR does cover international news more extensively than most major media. However, they are notorious for slanting their news coverage, generally in a left-wing and anti-American direction.

  7. Ms. D said

    Wow, I can’t remember hearing any anti-American verbage on NPR, other than stories covering things that are truly very American, such as the growing obesity problem, cell phone usage, disconnect with neighbors, etc (and problems that affect the modern world as well). But I’ve also heard a lot of stories covering different things like volunteer programs, such as afterschool care for low income families, etc, that show Americans in a good light, so I am surprised to hear you say that. I have been oblivious to any of those remarks thus far. But I do agree they tend to be left-wing; then again I tend to gravitate in that direction some of the time so I probably don’t notice.

  8. sanityinjection said

    Amr Hamzawy notes that the Middle East remains unimpressed by America’s rock star President’s speech:

    “Hamas’ skeptical response to Obama’s speech signifies the movement’s inability to discern an actual change in American policy…In Egypt, about a third of the population expressed enthusiasm and euphoria about Obama’s speech, while 67% expressed skepticism. America’s foes in the Middle East, primarily Iran, and the resistance movements Hamas and Hizbollah, could not deny the positive notes Obama struck on Islam and Palestine. Nonetheless, they described Obama’s speech as a pabulum of good intentions and kind words (especially the references to the Koran) that in and of themselves cannot solve the problems the United States confronts in the region….The supreme guide of the Egyptian Brotherhood described in a statement issued on June 6 Obama’s speech as good on intentions and empty on policy steps…Obama has bought himself an appreciable amount of good will, but his ability to match words with actions will very shortly be tested in Palestine, Iran and probably sooner in Lebanon.”

    Hamzawy says that the only real applause for the speech came from the governments of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia – all eager to have something to point to to help defend their status as US allies among public opinion at home. (http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2009/06/muslims_loved_obamas_words_but.html)

    So perhaps the question we ought to be asking is: How is it that our own news media are less perceptive than the Arab world is when it comes to the significance of Obama’s speech? Or is their fawning over it an attempt to create a self-fulfilling prophecy; i.e., if we the media say it’s important, we make it important.

    Unfortunately our news media for the most part no longer view themselves as a check on those in power, but rather as their willing and eager allies, ready to manipulate the truth and deliberately deceive the American people in order to further the Administration’s agenda in all areas.

  9. Ms. D said

    That is very significant point. I have a lot of skeptical students though, who don’t trust me as a teacher, or even an adult for that matter, and building of the trust always begins with kind words and an understanding attitude. Let’s just hope that Obama backs up the words with something of substance.

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