Even the Conservative Dan Drezner

University of Chicago Political Science professor Dan Drezner, a smart guy even if he is conservative, writes in the current issue of The New Republic about Bush’s naked sell-outs on the principles of free trade–when it bolsters his position in swing states:

Evaluating the Bush administration’s international economic policy is the political equivalent of diagnosing a schizophrenic. Every step forward in Robert Zoelllick’s grand strategy for trade liberalization–getting fast-track authority, launching the Doha round of world trade talks–is matched by a blatantly protectionist measure contained in Karl Rove’s master plan for reelection, such as the steel tariffs and the farm bill.

I recommend reading the whole thing (it’s one of TNR’s free articles). If you are still unconvinced by my attempts (here and here) to explain why free trade is a good thing, the read Drezner’s fourth-to-last paragraph particularly carefully. Or if you really don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s Drezner’s conclusion, and I can’t find anything to disagree with:

The most likely outcome for the next 18 months is a policy of “hypocritical liberalization.” The Doha round will proceed, as will the Middle East Free Trade Area. But the administration will take advantage of every exception, escape clause, and loophole at its disposal to protect vital constituencies from the vicissitudes of the global market. This will hurt the broad majority of American consumers and a healthy share of producers that rely on imported raw materials. But hey, there’s a rosy future awaiting West Virginia steelworkers.


P.S. Josh Marshall has a nice take on Bush’s new-found protectionist populism.

P.P.S. It’s really starting to look like there’s an easy way to predict what this administration will do next, at least in terms of domestic policy. It’s not as haphazard as John DiIulio made it out to be (and then retracted). Instead, just comb the history books for any of Herbert Hoover’s domestic policies not yet proposed by the Bush administration. Those are the ones on the horizon.