Sad capitulation

I think I'm going to stop paying attention to trade in this election. Fast track is dead, and I see no hope of its revival. Doha is in Cheyne-Stokes. Congress is intent on killing bilateral trade deals, and gearing up for FarmFEST 2009: Rumble in the Cornfield. Most trade is, thankfully free; that which isn't, just isn't going to get much freer in the foreseeable future. All the current trade deals we are considering we're concluding were sealed under fast track authority (which forces Congress to vote up or down on agreements without amendment; practicaly, without it trade deals are impossible.) It doesn't really matter what the president thinks, because Congress isn't having any.

Support for free trade is, I think, a character issue--and for this, I give John McCain kudoes. But I see no reason to vote as if trade liberalization were a live concern. It's more in the category of motherhood, apple pie, and that can-do American spirit.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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