“The president should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with Nancy Pelosi, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak [Trans-Pacific Partnership] agreement would have on our workers to make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible. And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal.
— Hillary Clinton, speaking today in Des Moines, Iowa
I have to confess that I’ve been somewhat sympathetic to Clinton in her decision, until today, to avoid speaking about the TPP, mainly because she plays no role in the decisionmaking process. Unlike Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Clinton isn’t a member of Congress. And she wasn’t likely to persuade any Democratic members of Congress one way or another simply by weighing in publicly on it. And by the time the new president is sworn in in January 2017, Congress will have long earlier decided the issue.
Had she taken a public stand against it before last week’s vote, it would have been simply a gratuitously political act.
Now that that vote is over, it’s fine for her to discuss it. But not tautologically. Obama says the current deal is the strongest deal possible. That is, he says that the counterparties would not agree to any of the changes and additions that the pact’s US critics (most prominently Warren, Sanders and Joseph Stiglitz) say are necessary to make the agreement a benefit rather than a detriment to the American workforce and others who would be effected (by the patent provisions that would pertain to pharmaceuticals, for example).
What does she mean when she says that Obama should listen to and work with his allies in Congress who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers to make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible? And that if we don’t get it, there should be no deal? Does she mean that unless the pact’s terms are what Pelosi and the other congressional critics of it say is necessary, there should be no pact?
Presumably so. The other alternative is that she means that Congress should approve the fast-track process once they’re convinced that the terms negotiated are the best possible ones that the other parties will accept, but she negates that possibility when she says, “And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal.” But then, why didn’t she just say it, outright?
She’s so consumed by her strategy of never saying anything actually specific about anything that her statements come off as some combination of a Rubik’s Cube and a Rorschach test for the listener. I wish she’d start speaking in straightforward sentences and paragraphs—sentences and paragraphs that lead somewhere other than a cul-de-sac.