On their Opinion Journal site, there’s a Wall Street Journal op-ed that begins:
The Central American Free Trade Agreement passed the Senate last week, as everyone expected, but the more interesting news is who voted against it. Hint: This isn’t Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party anymore.
Nafta was one of the former President’s signature achievements, and free trade one of the issues he used to define himself as a New Democrat. But last week only 10 Senate Democrats found the nerve to support Cafta, as opposed to 27 who voted for Nafta in 1993. Support among House Democrats looks even worse, with 10 or fewer expected to support Cafta when it comes up for a vote this summer, compared with 102 who backed Nafta.
Just as startling is which Senators voted against free trade with our southern neighbors. They include Joe Biden, who is often lauded as a statesman-internationalist; Chris Dodd, the self-avowed friend of Latin American democracy; Evan Bayh, the alleged heir to the New Democrat mantle; Jon Corzine, who made a fortune from free global capital markets at Goldman Sachs; and John Kerry, who lost last year’s election in part because voters suspected he wasn’t what he claimed to be (e.g., a free trader).
The biggest surprise, at least to us, is the no cast by New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. We’d have thought that a modest trade-opening deal with a few poor countries was an ideal chance to continue her march to moderation and demonstrate to business that she’d follow in the path of her husband as she seeks the White House in 2008. Apparently not.
A week ago, Orrin Judd wrote a post titled, “Nothing Left of Clintonism“:
On C-SPAN it looked like every Democratic leader voted against it and Hillary and all the other ’08 contenders. That might be explained by internal party politics, but guys like John Corzine voted against it. Can he explain that to any of his friends on Wall Street? Can anyone explain why any businessman would contribute to the Democratic Party?
The weird one on the GOP side was the two Maine Senators voted against–anyone know why?
Here’s the roll call and it does look like not a single one of the Democrat leaders or their ’08 hopefuls voted in favor of free trade. Amazing.