I suppose I was heartened, in a partisan sense, to read Sebastian Mallaby proclaim Barack Obama the candidate of growth, but this part of the argument isn't really very convincing (other parts, I think, are pretty much right) now is it:

Provided that Obama finds a way of crawling back from his embarrassing talk of reopening NAFTA, the gap between his trade views and McCain's doesn't much matter.



One could say much the same about all the areas of dispute between Obama and McCain -- if we assume that one of the candidates doesn't actually mean what he's proposing, then there's not much daylight between the two of them! To me, though, the widespread belief among Obamaphilic free traders that he doesn't really mean what he says about trade policy is a curious phenomenon. You look at Hillary Clinton's anti-trade rhetoric and you see it coming from a woman with a long association with the free trade faction of the Democratic Party and maybe think, "well, she doesn't mean that."

But Obama's trade-skeptical rhetoric is perfectly consistent with his record. Admittedly, it's a pretty short record. And maybe he doesn't mean what he's saying. Or maybe he does mean it, but could be talked out of it once in the White House. But maybe not! Really, who among us is in any position to say? But he's a charismatic guy, so people see what they want to see.

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