Hillary, I Don't Believe You Oppose the TPP

So, Hillary Clinton, you've just come out in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Respectfully, Madam Secretary, I don't believe a single word of this. I think this is pure politics, caused by having Sen. Sanders nipping at your heels from the left.

How does it feel to have that socialist who looks like everybody's favorite English professor matching you in fundraising? Fundraising, of all things! The one field where you were supposed to show him who understood real power in real politics and who didn't?

You've obviously been spooked. And now you have to shore up your credibility with your liberal base by "opposing" the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Which in large part you negotiated, when you were Obama's Secretary of State. You think the public doesn't realize that your fingerprints are all over this thing? What do people think the Secretary of State does, for heaven's sake? Negotiate the nation's treaties, among other things. And you were the good soldier, plugging away at this agreement, for years and years before you suddenly didn't like it.

What were you doing all those years, if I might ask? Faking it? Oh, that makes you look real credible.

You explanation for why you don't like the TPP -- "too many unanswered questions" -- is a dead giveaway.

Why does this agreement have so many unanswered questions? Because it's been negotiated in absolutely appalling secrecy, that's why. Secrecy you happily played along with when you were Secretary of State. Secrecy that was deliberately designed to prevent the public from finding out how horrible this thing is, how stuffed with giveaways to the corporations and betrayals of our democracy, our environment, our economy, our Constitution. Secrecy which -- memories of your e-mail server and the design of HillaryCare coming back now -- you may well have designed yourself, for all we know.

In any case, who are you, Washington insider incarnate and America's former foremost foreign-policy official, to tell us there are "unanswered questions" about this thing? What do you mean, you don't know what's in it? Who in damnation does, if you don't? Is this like FDR keeping the secret of the atomic bomb from Truman? Are we really expected to believe you're scratching your head about the contents of this thing?

No, I strongly suspect you understand perfectly well what's in it, and you're lying about not knowing.

Because we all know that Clintons never lie.

In any case, "too many unanswered questions" is just obviously set up for you to wriggle out of, if you do get elected, and sign the TPP when it hits your desk in the Oval Office. All you have to say is, "My questions have been answered."

Trust the old lawyer to build in her own escape hatch.

I'm not letting your old nemesis Barack Obama off the hook here, by the way. He did the exact same thing in 2008. Around the time of the Pennsylvania and Ohio primaries, he certainly sounded like a serious trade hawk. Then, the votes of the manufacturing-intensive states safely in the bag, he smoothly pivoted back to free trade and free-trade agreements.

And, of course, you both said in 2008 that you'd renegotiate NAFTA. Which neither of you have done.

But there's a bigger issue, if you'll forgive me for harping on that one phrase of yours that seems, come to think of it, to encapsulate so much about you. If we take "too many unanswered questions" seriously, you're implying that the agreement is maybe 40% good, 40% bad, and you're just waiting to find out about that last 20%. It implies that there's doubt in your mind, like you could have gone either way and a free-trade agreement is neither good nor bad in itself, but depends on the details.

Sorry, but if you understand at all that there's something wrong with this treaty, you understand that it's wrong in principle, on the innate fundamentals, and that the details are about as relevant as the details of stomach cancer. This is not a detail decision. This is a fundamentals decision about America's economic relationship to the rest of the world.

If you don't understand that, you don't understand what's wrong with the TPP:

  • It's wrong to base America's international economic relations on a mythical concept, free trade, that's based on a fantasy theory of economics.

  • It's wrong to sign American jobs away because multinational corporations give you campaign contributions.
  • It's wrong to sign treaties that foreign countries have shown for decades they will cheat on.
  • It's wrong to impose by treaty policy choices--from SOPA, PIPA and CISA on down--that the public never let Congress pass domestically.
  • It's wrong to undermine a dozen different things, from environmental protection to pharmaceutical pricing, but subjecting them to the legal principle that anything that reduces corporate profits is expropriation.
  • Anybody who's sincerely against this thing, is against it across the board, not because all the details aren't clear yet. Sanders and Trump are against this for real. You're not.

    Frankly, you might even have been better off not even pretending to be against this thing. You quite likely won't be believed, you've worsened your existing reputation as an unprincipled flip-flopper, and now you've lost the votes of people who do support free trade agreements.

    Who are they? They are the people who still think that free trade just is the modern world, that it's inevitable and we'd better get with the program, that only life's losers oppose it, that "free" markets really are free, and that free markets work magic. They are the people who still associate uncontrolled globalization with the late-90s prosperity they associate with your husband.

    They must be terribly disappointed in you. That makes all of us.

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