The trade bill heavily pushed by President Obama seems dead thanks to Democrats in the House. I wonder if the outcome would have been different if the president had been, well, more of a politician throughout the last six years. It was strange to now see him so out of character schmoozing his fellow Democrats. I can’t imagine him enjoying the process, especially when the result is a crushing defeat. At the same time, it seems to me, at least some of the House Democrats might have been less than impressed with their commander in chief making a rare appearance to see them only when it suited him.
The most likely scenario, however, is pure politics. Obama’s a lame duck. House members want to be reelected more than they want to help the president, or maybe even the country. And they can count votes. In our heavily gerrymandered country, the base is all important for winning. This means the Republicans in the House cater to the far right. For Democrats, they cater to the unions and isolationists. Certainly the Democrats can’t truly feel this president had done a complete about-face and was now championing a bill that is against the little guy in America.
Obama’s defeat is the country’s defeat. No matter how much union leaders and empty-rhetoric politicians like Elizabeth Warren want to hide their heads under a pillow to be safe from the boogey man, China ain’t going away. America needs to remain engaged and playing a central role in global trade. The bill’s defeat threatens to make America less relevant and thus less able to leverage trade to benefit people in this country. The Democrats have stolen back the crown from the GOP for the party most likely to be myopic. Congratulations. We knew you could do it.