Hillary Clinton had a chance to do one of two things on the Peru Free Trade Agreement.
She could announce her opposition to the proposal and score the remarkable political coup of trumping both Barack Obama and John Edwards of an important issue for grassroots Democrats -- thus all but assuring her front-runner status as the race toward the first presidential caucuses and primaries accelerates.
Or she could do what Wall Street demanded.
Clinton went with Wall Street. On the same day that a majority of House Democrats voted against the Peru FTA, the senator from New York endorsed the current economic-policy priority of the Bush administration.
In so doing, Clinton confirmed that the only thing more important to her than securing her lead in the race for the Democratic nod is keeping the likely financiers of her fall campaign happy.
In so doing, Clinton joined Illinois Senator Obama in supporting the trade deal.
That means that, among the top contenders in the Democratic contest, only former North Carolina John Edwards is standing with the majority of congressional Democrats in opposition to the Bush administration's free-trade agenda.
Had Clinton joined Edwards in opposing the Peru FTA, she would have stolen the spotlight from the candidate with whom she is competing for labor support while at the same time identifying herself as more attuned to the concerns of working Americans than Obama.
It would have been a political masterstroke.
But Clinton's far enough ahead in the polls so that she feels she can dismiss Democratic voters. And, of course, she's betting that she'll collect enough campaign money from investment bankers and multinational corporation CEOs to buy the advertising that will allow her to buy down the concerns of soon-to-be-unemployed factory workers and soon-to-be-landless farmers.
Posted by John Nichols at 11/08/2007 @ 9:01pm