The most contentious free trade agreement in the history of the United States.
Have we not forgotten the firestorm over NAFTA roughly 15 years ago? In the days before up-to-the-nanosecond news and a plethora of blogs the discussion over NAFTA seemed to be out of control. I even remember that it was a huge deal when Al Gore and Ross Perot debated the pros and cons of NAFTA on CNN. The tension was thick ebough to cut with a machete, and more so when Gore gave Perot a framed photo of Senators Smoot and Hawley as a "gift." (Yes, those were the architects behind the protectionist Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930).
Then again, Caracol's reports are pretty solid...if you agree wholeheartedly with the free trade deal. With such a complex issue, the network's report can boil down to free trade/Republicans = good, while tariffs/Democrats = bad. Therefore, to emphasize hyperbole makes sense for Caracol. Unfortunately, it is ultimately to the detriment of the viewer.
By the way, before some of you get this idea that I'm some pinko/Commie/red, allow me to clarify a few things:
- Between the two options I believe that free trade is a better option than protectionism.
- Yet not all free trade agreements work alike; the pacts between the U.S. and Chile or Peru allow for better guarantees to labor and worker's rights than the one with Colombia.
- Both Democrats and the GOP have done an awful job of treating the agreement as a political hot potato. President Bush miscalculated horribly by thinking he could get away with trying to ram it down Congress' throat and the White House argument that no free trade = a victory for Chavez/populists is woefully misguided. At the same time, the Democrats are doing a terrible job arguing against free trade as a concept and are perpetuating the notion that they are not "friends" of Colombia.
- What should be done? Hopefully cooler heads can prevail after the presidential elections in November and both parties can rationally analyze the pact. I feel that the agreement needs to be renegotiated (see item #2) yet the benefits of a free trade pact outweigh the negatives.
Prologue (May 26, 2008): It occurred to me this morning that there's a kink to my argument over hyperbole and the past controversy over NAFTA.
Wasn't the gesture of Al Gore giving Ross Perot the "gift" of the framed Smoot/Hawley picture on CNN the epitome of hyperbole? Could that be the reason why I seemed to recall that moment more than other discussions or arguments over NAFTA in the early 90s?