Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

I think it's safe to say that the turmoil surrounding the so-called "NAFTAgate" played into Hillary's strong performance tonight. On the heels of "Super Tuesday II", CBC, Canada's Public Broadcaster, has done a piece on the NAFTA scandal.

The CBC piece details the involvement of the conservative Harper government in creating a sensationalized leak, which itself had almost no resemblance to the actual memo, which itself is now being disclaimed as perhaps not accurate at all. We peel off layers of deception, and there is nothing left at all, except a successful attempt to promote bloodletting among Democrats.

Video from CBC: acdonald-obama-memo080303.wmv

This piece details the sordid affair, that begins not with Obama contacting Canada, but nervous Canadians contacting the campaigns. Austan Goolsbee agreed to accept an invitation from Canadians, who pressed him for answers about protectionist sentiments emerging in the US Presidential election. He tried to reassure them that Obama did not want to do away with the agreement, but wanted to add labor and environmental protections.

Someone in the Harper government - Prime Minister of Canada and a member of their Conservative Party - apparently decided to leak a sensational lie that bears a very loose resemblance of the truth. A source leaked to CTV that the Obama campaign had called Michael Wilson, Canadian Ambassador to the US, and warned them that Obama was going to talk tough on NAFTA, but it would be just talk.

According to CBC, all the details were wrong. Canada contacted the campaigns. Michael Wilson was not involved. And, most damning, they are now admitting that the memo at the heart of the controversy "may not accurately reflect what they were told".

In other words, according to CBC, this scandal was manufactured out of whole cloth. Goolsbee said something consistent with Obama's official position - that he wanted protections added, but it wasn't going to be a fundamental change or revocation of NAFTA, and that Obama was not a protectionist. This was morphed somewhat going into the memo, and now the embassy admits they "may have misrepresented the Obama advisor". Even after the memo misrepresented Obama, the Harper government took it a step further and then leaked a completely fantastic version of the story to the press, in order to maximize the bloodletting.

In short, Chris Bowers was right. This whole thing is clever maneuvering on the part of the Harper government to bolster McCain by sowing dissent among Democrats.

We have long had many of these pieces. The sensational misrepresentation of the original CTV story was shocking. But now CBC has cleared the air, with the final note from the embassy that they "may have misrepresented the Obama advisor". In the end, there's nothing to the story but air. It all boiled down to a memo, which was far less dramatic in content than the first story that ran, and now they are even disclaiming the accuracy of the memo.

In short, people have been duped. With the memo disclaimed, there is nothing left to support this story.

What about the denial?

Much has been made of Obama's looking right into a camera and claiming the story was "completely false". I want to address this in particular because of the timing.

2/27 11pm - CTV breaks initial story, claiming the Obama campaign called Canada to warn them he would be saying something he didn't mean. A shocking claim to a shocking level of duplicity.

2/28 - The story makes the rounds, absolutely exploding. Denials about, such as the Canadian embassy flatly denying it.

2/29 - Obama's TV interview where he unequivocally denies the story.

3/3 - Now, finally, the memo is out. Not only does the memo not even approach the level of duplicity implied by the original CTV story, but according to CBC, after the Embassy staff reviewed the notes about the meeting, they now believe they may have misrepresented Goolsbee's comments.

Given this timeline, and the drastic change in the story, it is very easy to see why Obama was comfortable with a blanket denial.  The claims of the original story bear so little resemblance to what eventually surfaced that it is unlikely Obama even connected the story to Goolsbee's meeting, given that the talk of NAFTA took up only a few minutes of that meeting - even if Obama knew of the particulars of that meeting. (Given his schedule, also not a given.)

In the end, the leak by the Harper government achieved its goal - it helped Hillary on her offensive and has helped ensure that the Democratic primary will drag on, causing Democrats to spend money fighting each other instead of John McCain, and giving McCain more time without a clear Democratic nominee, allowing him to catch up to our fundraising ability.

I don't think any of this casts any aspersion on Hillary's campaign or candidacy. She was the unwitting beneficiary, but not the cause. However, I think the eagerness of some to attack and tear down our candidates is something we - as people who want to see a Democrat in the White House - need to be cautious with. Having a spirited debate over an issue - like the difference in our candidates' health care plans - is one thing. Letting conservative forces drum up outrage with fake news stories, on the other hand, does not serve our interests. This will not be the last time we see tricks like this.

It is to the Republican advantage that we become so committed to our candidates, so myopic, so hateful of the "other side" that is keeping our candidate from their rightful nomination, that we are unwilling to use our vote or our money wisely in the general election. The Republican base is scattered. They are disorganized. They are dissatisfied with their nominee. Their last, best hope for a win relies on Democratic bloodletting reaching a historic level, leaving us too bloodied and battered to be on our game for the General Election.

It isn't fair to expect either candidate to bow out at this juncture. But I am coming to terms with the need to make a commitment to maintain a certain level of respect, so that if the "other candidate" is the winner, I am mentally and emotionally ready to take the fight where it belongs - to John McCain and the failed and irresponsible policies of George W. Bush. I firmly believe that if we put our hearts in the right place, we can make it to the convention and pick a nominee there, and still be united and ready to win.

Whatever we do, let's not let dirty tricks like the "NAFTAgate" scandal distract us from our ultimate goal.

Tags: Barack Obama, CTV, NAFTAgate (all tags)



Re: Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

Thanks for this!

by marcotom 2008-03-04 10:12PM | 0 recs
Re: he lied, he lied, he lied`

If you really mean what you just wrote, you may as well call the diarist a liar as well.  It is no stretch to believe a minority Conservative government in Canada, hanging on by its' fingernails, would want to prevent a major leftward shift south of their border.  It is a fact that Rush Limbaugh urged his listeners to crosss over and vote for HRC.  The common thread here is obvious.  In no way is the Clinton campaign culpable, but isn't it unsettling to have the right-wing conspiracy helping her?

It would really help the Clinton campaign if her supporters would demonstrate a little more loyalty to the movement, and a little more attention to the political long-term.

Obama is mistaken - McCain is the liar.  That's an argument that will not cripple us in November regardless of our nominee.

by CLLGADEM 2008-03-05 01:15AM | 0 recs
Uh oh...

(In best Emily Litella voice): Never mind...

I guess we all owe Obama an apology.  A lot of harsh things were said in the heat of the moment.

Susanhu is an honorable woman, and I think we can all be sure that she will issue an apology and correct the record on this, so we can all move on.  Mistakes were made, etc.

by Dumbo 2008-03-05 01:41AM | 0 recs
Could you please crosspost this at daily kos?
Not sure if you're the same as this poster "mattw" at DK:
if not, and you don't have an account there, then I can crosspost this for you, if it's OK with you. please let me know. thanks for the post!
by NeuvoLiberal 2008-03-05 02:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Could you please crosspost this at daily kos?

I am, but I already saw a story regarding the CBC story there; so it would be redundant. If you think it didn't get enough "air time" as it were, you're welcome to borrow at will.

by mattw 2008-03-05 03:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Could you please crosspost this at daily kos?

You make a comprehensive and solid argument. I really think it would be helpful if you can take a couple of minutes and post it there. Trust me :)

by NeuvoLiberal 2008-03-05 03:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Could you please crosspost this at daily kos?

Okay, if you insist. :)

by mattw 2008-03-05 06:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Could you please crosspost this at daily kos?

Okay well, jumped right onto the rec list there, so I guess you're right.

I'm a bit disappointed here that people didn't feel that clearing the air was worth the rec. I can honestly say that if the candidates were reversed, I would absolutely rec a diary that made it clear Hillary was exonerated from some concocted wrongdoing.

by mattw 2008-03-05 07:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

I attempted to watch the video  and it wasn't working on my computer.  When I searched for phrases from your diary, such as "may have misrepresented the Obama advisor", I found nothing other than your diary.  I'm certainly not accusing you of anything, just pointing out that I'm unable to find any source material for further information.  Can you point to anything, other than the video?

by markjay 2008-03-05 03:14AM | 0 recs
The video works fine for me.

And the phrase is in there.  It's a news broadcast from CBC.

by psericks 2008-03-05 06:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

Here it is on YouTube.

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by tbetz 2008-03-05 05:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

Sorry about the imbedding code.  Apparently, it doesn't work here.  The link is still good.

by tbetz 2008-03-05 05:41PM | 0 recs
Re: rofl

Don`t get to excited about this. First of all CBC is well known for carrying Harper`s water and this in no way corrects a bold faced lie, Quit making up excuses for him. You only make yourselves look like children who can`t get your own way. No way will this tirade work in the GE.

by gunner 2008-03-05 03:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

Given this timeline, and the drastic change in the story, it is very easy to see why Obama was comfortable with a blanket denial.

...because he didn't know there would be a memo.  Don't kid yourself.

by Steve M 2008-03-05 04:44AM | 0 recs
It's worth watching the video.

The Canadian government is conceding that they can't vouch for the accuracy of the memo.

by psericks 2008-03-05 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: The Memo

Having worked for many years in situations in which memoranda of content were the document of record for the meeting, I can tell you that all parties are given copies of the memorandum.  If there is disagreement as to the content it is noted and again distributed to all attendees.  Believe me, the Canadian government stands by the accuracy of the memo.  This is just more nonsense from the Obama campaign trying to pretend to be above politics while participating in the most clumsy attempt at interacting with a foreign government.  God save us from this pretender.

by macmcd 2008-03-05 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

No, because Obama never said anything that contradicts his public position.

by mattw 2008-03-05 06:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

I saw a clip of Obama saying the meeting never happened.  Now, of course, the memo absolutely shows him to be a liar.  

by macmcd 2008-03-05 07:58AM | 0 recs
Oy Veh

What he denied was the story that his campaign had sought out the Canadians to assure them that he didn't mean anything he was saying in the campaign.

The fact that an Obama adviser met the Canadians and told them exactly the same things Obama has said all along publicly does not in any way contradict that denial.

by jrooth 2008-03-05 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

Literally a day late and dollar short.

by Drummond 2008-03-05 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

The essence of the story is true whatever the motives of the Canadian government. Goolsbee, said what he said, as documented in a diplomatic memo, that is the heart of the matter. Now Goolsbee may have foolishly played into the Canadian government's hands, but he still said what he said.

This whole story points to Obama's vanity and over eagerness to play the role of conciliator. Who on earth would chat to the opposition Canadian Conservative government as a Democrat?No doubt Obama was flattered to be recognized as  a "player." The Canadians played on his vanity and it all went downhill from there. It points to Obama's lack of experience as well. This is not the kind of conversation one has "officially." What normally happens is that you get some Canadian big shot industrialist or billionaire with deep links in the Canadian government, preferably a personal friend of the Canadian Prime Minister, and off the record hopefully at some party, you ask the billionaire friend of the Prime Minister to convey your point of view about NAFTA personally, off the record to the Canadian government. That way what you say is unofficial and you're message is personally carried to the higher-ups in the Canadian government. Okay Mr. Obama? Now you know how its done.

by superetendar 2008-03-05 06:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

The essence of the story is true whatever the motives of the Canadian government. Goolsbee, said what he said, as documented in a diplomatic memo, that is the heart of the matter. Now Goolsbee may have foolishly played into the Canadian government's hands, but he still said what he said.

There is nothing true about the story, except that Goolsbee visited the Canadian consulate in response to an invitation from them, directly to him. He admits discussing trade policy, and says he said nothing that contradicts what Obama says publically.

One of the main thrusts of this whole diary is to point out that the Canadian government, after investigating internally, is saying the memo, such as it was, may not accurately represent what Goolsbee did say during the meeting.

He said what he said - the same things Obama states publically. Obama is in favor of free trade, with protections.

by mattw 2008-03-05 07:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

Unfortunately for the Obama campaign, the whole episode shows dishonesty on the part of Obama and his campaign and incompetence in trying to interact with a foreign country.  They clearly do not have a clue about either diplomacy or integrity.

by macmcd 2008-03-05 08:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Canadian Public Broadcasting Exonerates Obama

It only shows dishonesty if you believe that everything in the original CTV story that has now been proved to have been false was true.

In other words, if you cling to those false assertions, it proves your dishonesty. v0

by tbetz 2008-03-05 05:39PM | 0 recs


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