Kleinman on Macdonald on NAFTA-gate

I’ve excerpted (almost of) all Mark Kleinman’s analysis.

Naturally, the lie about what Austan Goolsbee is supposed to have said to the Canadian government has gotten around the world seven times by now, but at last the truth has managed to lace its boots on. Neil Macdonald, the Washington correspondent for the CBC, has the entire timeline.

The whole flap started with a political operative for Canada’s Tory Prime Minister telling reporters that Clinton — not Obama, Clinton — operatives had passed the word to the Canadian Ambassador in Washington that her stance on NAFTA was just for show. But when a reporter for CTV called the Canadian Ambassador in Washington (also a Tory political appointee) the story changed: suddenly the conversation was said to have involved an Obama staffer.

Obama’s folks denied any discussion with the Ambassador, for the excellent reason that it didn’t happen. But then someone leaked a memo about a meeting between Austan Goolsbee — not a staffer, but an unpaid academic adviser — and the someone in the Canadian Consulate-General in Chicago (not the Embassy in Washington).

That meeting did take place. Most of what the supposed “smoking gun” memo says is perfectly consistent with Obama’s public stance: that he wants to renegotiate NAFTA to strengthen labor and environmental standards, which of course is much less threatening to Canada than to Mexico.

But there is one paragraph in which Goolsbee is described as saying that the Canadians shouldn’t mistake political posturing for policy. That paragraph contains no direct quotation. The memo was written five days after the meeting. No one has found any contemporaneous notes. Goolsbee says, and the consulate now agrees, that the memo misrepresents his presentation.

Prime Minister Harper has refuse to mount any investigation; he’s happy to leave the stronger Democratic candidate damaged and his fellow Tory, John McCain, correspondingly benefited. Moreover, apparently Harper hates career diplomats as much as his friend President Bush, so he’s happy with the damage he has done to his own country’s foreign service by getting it in the middle of a political food-fight.

But the Clinton and McCain press operations have managed to make the false story the official narrative recited by any reporter who refers to the affair, and of course Clinton herself is happy to keep repeating the lie which, by repetition, has become the truth.

Nice.  She will still on the stump with the Goolsbee piece today.  Double nice.

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Published in: on March 11, 2008 at 8:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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