Hillary Is Now Picking and Choosing Which Obama Accomplishments to Take Credit For

According to Hillary Clinton’s latest campaign ploy, she deserves credit for domestic policies passed under Obama — notably, ObamaCare — but not issues — in this case, trade deals — she negotiated as Secretary of State.

She rolled out former Governor and erstwhile Michigan resident Jennifer Granholm (when this story hit, some local folks were talking about how Granholm hasn’t been seen in these parts of late) to claim that Hillary can’t be held responsible for NAFTA — which she supported when it got passed by her spouse (who is, of course, a key campaign surrogate) — or for the Trans-Pacific Partnership — which she helped negotiate as Secretary of State. It’s the latter I find particularly remarkable.

“It’s not really fair to ascribe NAFTA to her when it was her husband’s administration,” Granholm said in an interview with The Detroit News. “And, of course, it’s not really fair to ascribe TPP to her when it was her boss’s administration. She can’t go against somebody who she worked for.”

As a U.S. senator from New York, Clinton voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) forged by Republican President George W. Bush’s administration.

“I think people have to be fair about looking at how she acted when she was on her own,” said Granholm, who is supporting Clinton’s candidacy.

Sanders has been talking about trade policy in speeches in Michigan this week. His campaign is planning a large rally a 7:30 p.m. Saturday night at Macomb Community College’s southern campus in Warren. Clinton and her husband were stumping for votes Saturday in Detroit.

On Thursday, Sanders highlighted trade policy at a press confernece in Lansing, previewing a potential topic of disagreement in Sunday night’s debate with Clinton at the University of Michigan-Flint.

“On the issue of trade, Secretary Clinton’s views and mine are very different,” Sanders said. “She has supported NAFTA, I opposed it. She supported permanent normal trade relations with China, I vigorously opposed the (permanent trade) with China. She supported permanent normal trade relations with Vietnam, I opposed that.”

“She supported the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. I opposed that. And she supported the Korean Free Trade Agreement. I opposed that.”

It’s unclear from Detroit News’ reporting whether Granholm includes the Colombian and Korean free trade deals in her absolution of Hillary’s responsibility or not. But as David Sirota has shown, Hillary’s own emails show some really damning details about her claims and enthusiasm for the former (which makes sense, because she is also an enthusiastic booster of Plan Colombia).

During her 2008 presidential run, Clinton said she opposed the deal because “I am very concerned about the history of violence against trade unionists in Colombia.” She later declared, “I oppose the deal. I have spoken out against the deal, I will vote against the deal, and I will do everything I can to urge the Congress to reject the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.”

But newly released emails show that as secretary of state, Clinton was personally lobbying Democratic members of Congress to support the deal, even promising one senior lawmaker that the deal would extend labor protections to Colombian workers that would be as good or better than those enjoyed by many workers in the United States.

One of the 2011 emails from Clinton to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Clinton aide Robert Hormats has a subject line “Sandy Levin” — a reference to the Democratic congressman who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees U.S. trade policy. In the email detailing her call with Levin, she said the Michigan lawmaker “appreciates the changes that have been made, the national security arguments and Santos’s reforms” — the latter presumably a reference to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. She concludes the message about the call with Levin by saying, “I told him that at the rate we were going, Columbian [sic] workers were going to end up w the same or better rights than workers in Wisconsin and Indiana and, maybe even, Michigan.”

Note, too, in that email that there is no exemption claimed for the paragraph that follows on the discussion of KORUS, which has been particularly damaging to Michigan’s economy.

Look, last I checked, Hillary cleaned up on Super Tuesday claiming she is running on a continuation of Obama’s policies. While I recognize she mostly means the domestic policies she had a less direct role in, at some point we get to hold her accountable for the things she did in her actual job, which included negotiating trade deals that hurt American workers, especially while she’s claiming she’ll be Obama’s third term. Her role in trade deals — and her likely dishonesty about TPP (see this Larry Summers piece that assumes if Trump wins, TPP will be dismantled, which suggests he expects it to be fully implemented if Hillary wins) is part of who she is. Yes, she voted against a trade deal once. Yes, she also had an affirmative role in a lot more trade deals. That’s a shitty record to run on in MI (and it will be a shitty record that Trump will hammer her on mercilessly if they end up being the nominees), but it is her record, part of the extensive experience that she points to as making her best qualified to be President.

 

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

12 replies
  1. Bay State Librul says:

    Am I misreading this? Is Cruz Control kicking ass today
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    If so, and its a brokered deal in Cleveland, Cruz is their guy.
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    Hillary will have a better chance against the second Con Man from Texas (Roger was #1)
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    Not sure if Bernie can pull it out of the fire
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    In any case, we might get another four years. How about Elizabeth for VP?

  2. Ryan says:

    Jennifer Granholm co-chaired Hillary super PAC Priorities USA and now works for the David-Brock-founded super PAC Correct the Record.

    When Granholm was Michigan Attorney General in 1999, she supported passage of Michigan bills 4475 and 4476 (90th Legislature). Those bills were even worse versions of Bill Clinton’s Prison Litigation Reform Act. (The Prison Litigation Reform Act prohibited prisoners from challenging prison conditions unless they could prove physical injury. This made it much harder, impossible in some cases, for prisoners to challenge sexual harassment and sexual abuse until the Act was finally amended to include sexual abuse in 2009.)

    The Michigan bills were specifically enacted to prevent recovery in a class action, Neal v. Dep’t of Corrections, won by women who had been sexually victimized by prison guards. Michigan’s treatment of female prisoners became a state scandal: “Michigan lawmakers and prison officials have stymied investigations of sexual abuse in women’s prisons, stifled inmate complaints and stripped away the rights of assaulted prisoners to sue for damages” (Detroit News, May 24, 2005).

  3. martin says:

    quote”That’s a shitty record to run on in MI (and it will be a shitty record that Trump will hammer her on mercilessly if they end up being the nominees), but it is her record, part of the extensive experience that she points to as making her best qualified to be President.”unquote

    Frankly, if positive public response to Trump’s repulsive rhetoric is any indication, I think a big portion of American voters don’t give a flying fuck about “records”. And if short discussions with people in my vicinity of Michigan is any indication, the only thing they care about is what they’ll gain/lose from whoever wins. Of course, most people in my vicinity are low/zero income, subzero IQ and clueless about most electoral issues. Hell, not one single person I talked to in the last month had even heard of TTP, and didn’t give a shit anyway. All they care about is their current SNAP food stamps is barely enough to survive on, and worry the next administration in power will sell them out for the next war, notwithstanding their Social “Security”. However, given I’m 71, and most people I talk to are in my age/economic group, that may explain it. While I’m sure the younger generations have different views and considerations when deciding who they’ll vote for, one thing is blindingly obvious. There’s a shitload of American citizens who are bloodthirsty, moral degenerate morons, who also don’t give a flying fuck about the “records” of candidates.
    All THEY care about is a candidate who promises to kick out every illegal immigrant, build an American version of the Great Wall of China along the Mexican border, ban Muslim immigration, bolster the US Military, torture every accused terrorist, kick every enemies ass, nation or corporate , protect the 2nd Amendment and drag every criminal through the streets before publicly hanging them all, as long as they’re not white. And the only thing he has to claim is the length of his dick as his “qualification”.

    Record? Hahaha. Besides..wait till the FBI rains on Clinton’s parade. Her record will be become a document.
    Insert rolling eye smiley here.

    Ok, carry on.

  4. lefty665 says:

    She will continue to pick and choose whatever best serves her at the moment. That is the only Clinton core principle. We saw with Bill that “best serves” can be very short term.
    .
    In states like South Carolina with large numbers of black primary voters Hillary will paint with a very broad brush, ala “Obama’s 3rd term”. In places like Michigan the strokes will be a little finer as you point out.
    .
    What of Obama’s record or her own and Bill’s she chooses to embrace will vary with the locality and the audience. The rest disappears as if it never existed. Orwell had a pretty good take on how the past and future fade into the mists and we are left with the spin du jour.
    .
    Your analysis that Hillary’s embrace of Obama while distancing herself from trade deals and policies that have devastated Michigan is right on the money. If Sanders allows her to wrap herself in Flint’s lead and avoid the economic destruction of Michigan she helped create it will be a profound failure.

    • Bay State Librul says:

      Do you have any numbers to support the “she helped create the economic destruction of
      Michigan”?

      • lefty665 says:

        Here’s a Link to mfg jobs. Short take: They were at around 17m when NAFTA was enacted. They really fell off a cliff around 2000 and have recovered a little since 2009, but are still below 12m. Raw jobs does not even begin to describe the loss of wages and benefits for many of the remaining workers or localized impacts as in Michigan.
        .
        Being a trade deal destruction denier is a lot like being a climate change denier.

        • Bay State Librul says:

          Lefty,

          I am not a trade deal destruction denier, although I like your alliteration

          Thanks.

          NAFTA was enacted in 1993… so between then and now, the loss of jobs is say 5 million. In a span of 23 years, Michigan has lost a percentage portion of the 5 million jobs plus the multiplier effect of secondary jobs that support manufacturing.

          I get it.
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          Let me chew on the numbers for a while. I am a Massachusetts voter so I need to get in the shoes of a Michigan Wolverine.
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          Appreciate your help.
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          Remember we are all on the democratic team, so don’t go voting for Trump

        • bevin says:

          …and then there are the effects it has had in Mexico where hundreds of thousands of peasants have been thrown off the land as subsidised agri-business corn imports have ruined the traditional semi -subsistence economy.
          Which in turn has led to large numbers of ‘surplus’ workers being driven into the hands of migrant traffickers, criminal gangs, prostitution and so on… (the drill is well understood).
          According to John Williams at Shadow Statistics the real unemployment rate is around 23%.
          Which is after the manufacturing work force has, at the bidding of government, employers and unions, given up many of the benefits and wage rates historically negotiated.
          And then there is the wave of pension cuts and clawbacks, of which the latest is the TVA’s. The wonder is not that people are angry but that the anger is so dissipated and incohate that Trump, rip off artist incarnate, is the beneficiary, so far.

          • RUKidding says:

            “The wonder is not that people are angry but that the anger is so dissipated and incohate that Trump, rip off artist incarnate, is the beneficiary, so far.”
            *
            Martin’s comment (above) sums it up nicely. Sadly the vast majority – really the huge majority – of US citizens are low info voters, and I include here MANY millions who are college educated & above, may even still hold “good” jobs, and have a decent life style. Then of course, there are the rest who are struggling to survive on low income jobs (or no jobs), etc.
            *
            US voters, imo, are woefully uneducated and lacking in even basic knowledge of what’s really going on, how the govt is run, much less anything approaching facts and figures. Even so-called “leftists” end up being heavily brainwashed by the usual rightwing propaganda even tho they don’t watch Fox, listen to Rush or attend Family/Fellowship tainted “churches.” The propaganda is so all-pervasive that only the really astute can avoid it and sift through the information to make truly informed choices.
            *
            Trump appeals to some of my “Lefty” friends, perish the thought, bc, like the worst of his base, they, too, are fed up. But they don’t know where to turn. MANY D-voters now see through Hillary and really cannot stand her. It has nothing to do with Benghazi and emails. No, they actually DO see her as a the NAFTA-supporting corporatist Wall ST enabling fraud that she is.
            *
            Trump SOUNDS like he’s on “our” side, but of course he’s not. Anyone who as any clue about that flim-flam con artist (and I’ll give Trump that: he is a con ARTIST) knows that he’s hired undocumented workers from Mexico and Central America for decades for pennies on the dollar. Whatever jobs Trump has created have mostly gone to undocumented workers and to H1(b) visa indentured servants from Eastern Europe. He union busts constantly, and then his casinos go into bankruptcy and his workers, such as they are, lose their jobs while Trump, I’m sure, manages a nifty pay out for himself.
            *
            Trump is no better than Mitt RMoney. He’s just lewder and cruder than Bishop Mitt, who destroyed very good jobs for US citizens by off-shoring and driving good solid businesses into bankruptcy to enrich himself. The “neat trick” that Trump has pulled is making himself seem like the Anti-Mitt, when, in fact, he’s just Mitt in a cruder format.
            *
            Why some people think having an “outsider” will “solve” the “problems” in DC is also beyond me. I agree that the fed govt sucks, but citizens need to take *some* responsibility for continuing to vote back in the same greedy creeps who’ve screwed them over time and again.
            *
            I truly understand the pain and anger being expressed in this election. Sadly, all Trump is doing is the oldest trick in the GOP playbook: rile up the base’s racist, sexist, homophobic anger and point their anger at the “other” – which is mainly minorities, muslims, women and ISIS. These are NOT the problem, of course, but so so easy to say: hey!!! Look over there!!!! Blahs stealing from you while living large!!!11!!! Ba da boom ba da bing.
            *
            Hillary just sounds dull, tired and same old same old. Which she is.

  5. lefty665 says:

    Have you looked at the state of the US manufacturing sector in general or the auto industry in particular? Perhaps you missed that NAFTA and subsequent trade agreements sent industry to Mexico and then to China and ever further into the third world.
    .
    Hillary’s work in support of the TPP will accelerate the destruction if it is enacted, perhaps as part of the Obama 3rd term she has promised. Oh wait, maybe that was a promise for black primary voters in South Carolina, not residents of the rust belt.
    .
    Please do some reading about our industrial collapse over the last twenty years or so then we can talk. Part of the reading could profitably be EW’s posting above.

  6. lefty665 says:

    You’re welcome. Word plays make the world go round.
    .
    I don’t much care for policy by anecdote, but I had an experience in the 90’s that got my head up on trade and made me pay attention. I worked with a company that picked up an assembly job from a British company that sold internationally. The UK wages at the time were $15-$16/hr. Ours were about $8/hr. We did it for a year or so, then the maquiladoras proliferated post NAFTA and the work moved to Mexico where wages were about $8/day. I followed what was happening and about two years later the work moved to China where wages were about $1/day. That example got my attention, and subsequent bleeding of US jobs and wages had more context for me. Ross Perot was right, that giant sucking sound was jobs headed across the borders. Trade deals greased the skids.
    .
    Something that’s a little harder to see in the numbers are the people working multiple part time jobs or part time instead of full time. They inflate the jobs numbers and reduce the unemployment rate while wages/benefits are usually lower than full time. Also, new jobs in the auto industry are at radically reduced wages and benefits. When my wife grew up in the Detroit area line workers could afford houses and a middle class life. Not any more.
    .
    U3 that we hear blasted from the rooftops at 4.9% is a fantasy. U6 at about twice that is slightly more realistic. Real unemployment numbers as they were counted before Bill cooked them in ’93 are in the neighborhood of 20%. Unemployment rates for minorities and the young are often twice that, 40% or more.
    .
    The shitty economy is what’s driving populism, slightly different groups from Repub to Dem, but that’s the issue. No jobs, low wage jobs, a lifetime of student debt. Real wages are stagnant since Jimmy Carter was president means we’re headed into a 3rd generation and the downhill slide is accelerating.
    .
    This is class war and the people who have been screwed are pissed. Neolib, more Same, incrementalism and a 3rd Obama term with things like TPP feeding the fat cats are non starters this year.
    .
    Trump’s not high on my list, but for sure, real Dems will never vote for Clinton. The lesson from ’12 is that “lesser evil” is still evil and that evil takes what you give it then comes back for more.
    .

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