Canadian diplomatic memo disproves Obama campaign claims (updated)

The man who tantalizes the unhappy voter with promises of change may be discovering that this diplomacy stuff is a little more difficult than it looked. After threatening the NAFTA treaty while pandering to Ohio voters facing declining manufacturing employment, the Obama camp was blindsided by a report from the Canadian television network CTV that his campaign had privately reassured Canadian officials previously that he wouldn't really change NAFTA, no matter what was said on the campaign trail, that it would just be a Northern version what the late Senator Patrick Moynihan called "Boob bait for the bubbas."

The Obama campaign denied  such a meeting:

The Obama campaign told CTV late Thursday night that no message was passed to the Canadian government that suggests that Obama does not mean what he says about opting out of NAFTA if it is not renegotiated.

Oh-oh!

It turns out that diplomats often write up memoranda when they meet with people like campaign advisors to a leading presidential candidate in the United States. Who knew? Not the Obama campaign, apparently.

So now that such a memo has turned up, widely circulated among the Canadian diplomatic corps, Team Obama is saying that those stupid Canadians weren't able to understand what their advisor really meant. Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press reports:

Barack Obama's senior economic policy adviser said Sunday that Canadian government officials wrote an inaccurate portrayal of his private discussion on the campaign's trade policy in a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The memo is the first documentation to emerge publicly out of the meeting between the adviser, Austan Goolsbee, and officials with the Canadian consulate in Chicago, but Goolsbee said it misinterprets what he told them. The memo was written by Joseph DeMora, who works for the consulate and attended the meeting.

Goolsbee disputed a section that read: "Noting anxiety among many U.S. domestic audiences about the U.S. economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign. He cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans."

"This thing about `it's more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans,' that's this guy's language," Goolsbee said of DeMora. "He's not quoting me.

"I certainly did not use that phrase in any way," Goolsbee said.

So, if we believe this version of the Obama campaign's story, then we have an important Obama advisor creating a seriously false impression in the diplomatic corps of our largest trading partner. Telling them that they didn't understand is not an excuse. Diplomats are supposed to be in control of their message. 

It is scarcely credible that Canadian diplomats are intentionally misquoting or misinterpreting Goolsbee as a means of sabotaging Obama (interfering in internal political affairs, as diplomats phrase it). The memorandum was prepared well before Obama spoke out against NAFTA in Ohio. So we are left with the conclusion that Team Obama is simply clumsy, and that's the charitable interpretation. Is making American diplomats inept the kind of change we want? Is that the hope Obama is selling?

Let's face facts: if Team Obama is capable of screwing up relations with the country most similar to us, the country that knows us best, and that has the biggest stake in the health of our economy and continuing American good will, imagine what kind of havoc would be created when dealing with the likes of the Russians, the Chinese, the Syrians, or the Palestinians.

Update -- Michael Dobbs writes at The Fact Checker:  (hat tip: Instapundit)

The bottom line is that it has taken four days to drag something approaching the full story out of the Canadian embassy and the Obama campaign. As I suggested before, both Obama and Clinton have exaggerated their opposition to NAFTA in order to win votes in economically depressed Ohio. This is a case where the technical parsing of the truth by the Obama campaign falls well short of the whole truth.


Previous coverage:

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/02/obama_plays_both_sides_of_the.html
  

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/02/obama_nafta_flap_about_ready_t.html

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/02/the_danger_of_obamas_amateur_d.html

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/03/a_canadian_responds_to_obama_a.html
 

The man who tantalizes the unhappy voter with promises of change may be discovering that this diplomacy stuff is a little more difficult than it looked. After threatening the NAFTA treaty while pandering to Ohio voters facing declining manufacturing employment, the Obama camp was blindsided by a report from the Canadian television network CTV that his campaign had privately reassured Canadian officials previously that he wouldn't really change NAFTA, no matter what was said on the campaign trail, that it would just be a Northern version what the late Senator Patrick Moynihan called "Boob bait for the bubbas."

The Obama campaign denied  such a meeting:

The Obama campaign told CTV late Thursday night that no message was passed to the Canadian government that suggests that Obama does not mean what he says about opting out of NAFTA if it is not renegotiated.

Oh-oh!

It turns out that diplomats often write up memoranda when they meet with people like campaign advisors to a leading presidential candidate in the United States. Who knew? Not the Obama campaign, apparently.

So now that such a memo has turned up, widely circulated among the Canadian diplomatic corps, Team Obama is saying that those stupid Canadians weren't able to understand what their advisor really meant. Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press reports:

Barack Obama's senior economic policy adviser said Sunday that Canadian government officials wrote an inaccurate portrayal of his private discussion on the campaign's trade policy in a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The memo is the first documentation to emerge publicly out of the meeting between the adviser, Austan Goolsbee, and officials with the Canadian consulate in Chicago, but Goolsbee said it misinterprets what he told them. The memo was written by Joseph DeMora, who works for the consulate and attended the meeting.

Goolsbee disputed a section that read: "Noting anxiety among many U.S. domestic audiences about the U.S. economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign. He cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans."

"This thing about `it's more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans,' that's this guy's language," Goolsbee said of DeMora. "He's not quoting me.

"I certainly did not use that phrase in any way," Goolsbee said.

So, if we believe this version of the Obama campaign's story, then we have an important Obama advisor creating a seriously false impression in the diplomatic corps of our largest trading partner. Telling them that they didn't understand is not an excuse. Diplomats are supposed to be in control of their message. 

It is scarcely credible that Canadian diplomats are intentionally misquoting or misinterpreting Goolsbee as a means of sabotaging Obama (interfering in internal political affairs, as diplomats phrase it). The memorandum was prepared well before Obama spoke out against NAFTA in Ohio. So we are left with the conclusion that Team Obama is simply clumsy, and that's the charitable interpretation. Is making American diplomats inept the kind of change we want? Is that the hope Obama is selling?

Let's face facts: if Team Obama is capable of screwing up relations with the country most similar to us, the country that knows us best, and that has the biggest stake in the health of our economy and continuing American good will, imagine what kind of havoc would be created when dealing with the likes of the Russians, the Chinese, the Syrians, or the Palestinians.

Update -- Michael Dobbs writes at The Fact Checker:  (hat tip: Instapundit)

The bottom line is that it has taken four days to drag something approaching the full story out of the Canadian embassy and the Obama campaign. As I suggested before, both Obama and Clinton have exaggerated their opposition to NAFTA in order to win votes in economically depressed Ohio. This is a case where the technical parsing of the truth by the Obama campaign falls well short of the whole truth.


Previous coverage:

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/02/obama_plays_both_sides_of_the.html
  

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/02/obama_nafta_flap_about_ready_t.html

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/02/the_danger_of_obamas_amateur_d.html

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/03/a_canadian_responds_to_obama_a.html