Euro Trade Official Hits Hillary Clinton for Dangerous Drift into Protectionism
Here's a substantive critique of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), from the international stage no less, that I've seen unreported in American media thus far.
The Democratic presidential candidate is under fire from a European trade official who suggests that her hinted support for more trade protectionism would prove harmful to the global economy.
The December 6 Financial Times reported the comments by European Union trade commissioner Peter Mandelson above-the-fold on its front page (emphasis mine):
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner in the US presidential campaign, came under fire from Europe's top trade negotiator yesterday for suggesting that, if elected, she might not press hard for a new global trade pact.
"The apparent scepticism about a Doha world trade deal that Mrs Clinton expressed in the Financial Times this week, and her suggestion that there is a need to shelter American companies and interests from foreign investment, are a disappointing sign of the times," said Peter Mandelson, European Union trade commissioner.
His remarks represented an unusually direct intervention by a foreign politician in a US presidential election, not least because he singled out the opinions of one particular candidate for criticism.
In an interview published on Monday, Mrs Clinton told the FT she believed certain free trade theories might no longer be true in the age of globalisation, but she emphasised "there is nothing protectionist about this".
Mr Mandelson, at a Brussels globalisation seminar, said: "Politicians have a huge responsibility not to overstate the risks attached to open investment, because we have nothing to gain from a protectionist turn in global markets.
"It seems likely that we are entering a period of relative vulnerability for the global economy and, perversely, that is of course the moment when the logic of protectionism is most tempting."
The former high-ranking UK government minister added: "That is why I would argue that Hillary Clinton's doubts about the value of a Doha trade deal are misplaced."
A search of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times found nothing mentioning Mandelson's substantive criticism. A Google search yielded a hit on MSNBC.com, but that turned out to be a syndication of the Financial Times article in the website's business section.
Granted, global trade agreements are hardly a sexy issue for the average American voter. But the fact that an international trade expert is attacking a 2008 hopeful for edging towards mindless populism on protectionism is newsworthy, particularly given the media's penchant for hyping the extent to which President Bush is disrespected and mocked by foreign leaders for his policy stances.