One of the few things that I liked about the Clinton administration was its support for free trade. So it’s nice to see the Obama administration get this right as well, despite a lot of idiotic protectionist rhetoric during the campaign:
The media made much of Obama’s polite gestures to dictators, but he gave them nothing resembling what he gave to Uribe. Name one dictator Obama sat with for lunch. Which troublemaker got a White House invitation? Which tinhorn got a promise to visit?
And has anyone heard of Obama giving his autograph — “with admiration!” — to another president? It was as if Obama himself unclenched his own fist to reach out to the Colombian hand.
Obama may have had political reasons to seek out Colombia — the Chavez-Obama pictures didn’t do him any good domestically, and Drudge Report ran pictures of them all weekend, infuriating White House officials.
But the outlook for free trade has been improving for several weeks, too. On a visit to Medellin last month, Uribe gave us a veiled signal of positive moves on trade under the surface, and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has since made encouraging statements.
Two congressional delegations of pro-trade Democrats turned up in Colombia this month, back-slapping with the Colombians. But nothing approaches the good news seen now.
One of the causes of the Great Depression was protectionism and the imposition of tariffs. I hope that we’ll at least avoid that policy insanity.