Harold Meyerson's column in The Washington Post today is a terrific read -- and got me thinking about just how unprincipled and smarmy Hillary Clinton really is on this one. You'll notice Meyerson reports that "Clinton has yet to take a position" on the NAFTA expansion that will be voted on in the House today.
My guess is that Clinton will vote against the first part of the NAFTA expansion -- the Peru Free Trade Agreement. That "no" vote would be a good thing. But her silence in the lead up to the vote is really the bigger story that's already been written, no matter how she ends up voting. She wants to please the Big Money interests who are underwriting her campaign and who are pushing this trade policy, but she also faces an increasingly competitive primary challenge from John Edwards, who has come out strongly against NAFTA-style trade policies (more on Edwards in my upcoming nationally syndicated newspaper column out on Friday).
So my guess is that what's going on is that she has told the lobbyists, corporate executives and other Big Money interests financing her presidential run that she'll stay quiet in the lead up to the vote, so as to not change the dynamic of the vote in Congress by getting more Democrats to oppose the Peru deal. Then, when its clear the deal is going to sail through because folks like her haven't stepped up and been leaders, she'll quietly cast her vote against it, and then during select campaign appearances with select groups, she'll brag about her supposed courage and pretend she took a strong stand for the middle class.
You can call this smart politics, and sure -- if Clinton votes against the deal in the end, that's good. But what this really is is Triangulation 2.0. And, as I said, it's unprincipled and smarmy -- the opposite of, ya know, "leadership."