Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 2, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

COLOMBIA?....You know, I was sort of wondering why John McCain is visiting Colombia today, and apparently I'm not the only one. Dan Balz is curious too:

Is his commitment to free trade so deep that he needed not one foreign trip (to Canada last month) but two foreign trips to make that clear to people? Is the issue of free trade so central to the outcome of the election that he intends to make it the centerpiece of his campaign strategy?

The answers — no and no — are evident just from posing the questions. Even McCain seems defensive about his short foray into Latin America....Before host Robin Roberts could even pose a question, McCain was explaining why he was there and what he was dong and that he would be home soon. He said he would be in Colombia only one day, in Mexico only one day and that the issues of free trade and drug trafficking were important enough to warrant his visit.

This is followed by several hundred words that amount to a verbal shrug of the shoulders. Oddly, though, there's not even a brief mention of this. Peculiar, isn't it?

Kevin Drum 2:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (56)

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Columbia, Canada, and a fund raising trip to London. If there is anyone awake at the Obama campaign, they might want to point out that McCain is busy campaigning overseas while the U.S. economy crumbles. Just a thought.

Posted by: Dave Brown on July 2, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "Peculiar, isn't it?"

Please drop the cuteness.

Of course the corporate-owned mass media is not going to report that Their Man McCain is a career white-collar crook and bought-and-paid-for tool of corporate lobbyists.

Of course the corporate-owned mass media is going to glorify McCain as a straight-talking super-patriotic independent war hero.

Of course the corporate-owned mass media is going to demonize and character-assassinate Obama with fake, phony, trumped up stories about his mortgage and his lack of patriotism (and his wife's lack of patriotism).

The corporate-owned mass media wants John McCain to be the next president of the USA, to continue the CheneyBush policies of massive tax cuts for the ultra-rich, and deregulation of media ownership so that a handful of giant corporations can gobble up ALL of America's newspapers, networks, TV and radio stations.

Stop the cutesy act of pretending that this is surprising, or a mystery, or the result of some kind of error or laziness on the part of the media. It is a deliberate propaganda campaign.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 2, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Do ya think mcsame, like chimpy, loves to snort that whiskey and drink cocaine?

Posted by: on July 2, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing that made sense to me was hearing that this trip will get massive coverage in the spanish-language media. And someone on MSNBC said he'll be visiting a "religious site" (huh?) which would amplify that press among US spanish-speakers.

Still.. I dunno.

Posted by: riffle on July 2, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

McDodo is stumping for drug cartel money.

Posted by: Brojo on July 2, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

I'd agree with riffle. I think it's a pretty smart way of reaching out to the Latino community with major coverage in the Spanish Language press. This way he can avoid the criticism of his immigration views by the conservative base that would come from more overt outreach efforts. And even better, he gets to portray this trip to that base as a pro-business agenda. Kill two birds with one stone!

Posted by: RyanA on July 2, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

I see that Testicular Assmist is at it again:

"The corporate-owned mass media wants John McCain to be the next president of the USA, to continue the CheneyBush policies of massive tax cuts for the ultra-rich, and deregulation of media ownership so that a handful of giant corporations can gobble up ALL of America's newspapers, networks, TV and radio stations."

Oh, jeez. Don't you ever just tire yourself out. How anyone could sustain such absolute horsecrap day after day, year after year, is beyond me. You need a lifestyle change.

Posted by: BillyBobSchranzburg on July 2, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

republican candidate out of the US for the 4th? hmmm...

1) didn't want pics comparing Obama's crowds for the 4th against his own

2) medical procedure

Posted by: eightnine2718281828mu5 on July 2, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

My guess is these are all so McCain can say "Well Obama hasn't gone to Columbia in 4 years" or "Obama hasn't been to Mexico in 2 years". The "Obama hasn't been to Iraq" line seemed to work with the media and McCain needs more story lines that are pointless and petty enough the media will pick them up and run with them.

Posted by: tom.a on July 2, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

This is absolutely the best time of year to get kidnapped by FARC. If you haven't done it, and I suggest you do (Something about summer rains and army fatigues brings out the girl in me), you'd be smart to book your tickets today!

Posted by: enozinho on July 2, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Peculiar, isn't it."

No, and say goodbye to Rick Davis (McSame's Karl Rove)while you're at it.

Posted by: dick tuck on July 2, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

The trip to Columbia is perfectly innocent!

He's just picking up some "stuff" for his wife.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on July 2, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

President Uribe is a hero! OUR guy in South America.

The anti-Chavez.

Or so Hugh Hewitt tells me.

Posted by: agave on July 2, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Once you're involved with La Raza and heavily support trafficking of humans into the country illegally for cheap labor, it isn't much of a step to get involved with drug trafficking. Next stop on the travel agenda...Sinaloa.

Posted by: Luther on July 2, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps he's planning the Venezuelan conquest. His critique over Iraq was always over the implementation--he is about as explicit a proponent of American Empire as you will find. Maybe he wants to show he can do an invasion more efficiently than Bush.

Also, it seems that Columbia and Venezuela aren't the friendliest of neighbors these days.

Posted by: danimal on July 2, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm...Columbian army raid frees Ingrid Betancourt today together with other FARC hostages. All a good thing, but it just happens to be the day the Republican nominee is in town???

Posted by: RickT on July 2, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

I was just thinking the exact same thing RickT.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 2, 2008 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

The Karl Rove in me says that the correct reason for him going on these foreign trips would be that McCain wants to have video of him meeting with foreign leaders to so that the American people come to see him as being more "Presidental" than Obama.

Posted by: Chicounsel on July 2, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe if FARC kidnaps him and holds him hostage he'll become even more qualified to handle foreign affairs?


Posted by: Anon on July 2, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe he's down in Columbia trying to raise funds by pulling a DeLorean ;-)

Posted by: beowulf888 on July 2, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

So why are the Democrats bending over and passing this $162 billion extension for Bush's neocon/oil wars? I thought the POINT of electing a Democratic majority was to stop that madman.

Posted by: EIDE on July 2, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

chicocounsel: McCain wants to have video of him meeting with foreign leaders to so that the American people come to see him as being more "Presidental" than Obama.

how'd that work for bush...

scratch that...

how'd that work for america...

Posted by: mr. irony on July 2, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

It could be that they're just having him go on a trip to make him look like he does something important- kind of a counter-balance to things the media reports on that make him look like a tool/ditz/idiot.

If it turns out that in Colombia he's staying far away from anything related to his lobbyists' ties, then it gives them leverage over their more idealistic subordinates and activists- then can point to posts like Kevin's, then report on what McCain was supposedly really doing, and write a blog post or e-mail saying "Look at what liars and hypocrites the liberals are!!! Jumping to terrible conclusions over nothing again!!! Alwasy ready to pounce to the worst assumptions about people like you!" the sub-text being that conservative supporters should never trust anything negative liberals say about them anymore.

If you think that's too shrewdly Machiavellian to be the type of thing they actually do, you're not looking hard enough- it turns out that this type of thing is their bread & butter, and what they rely on instead of sound public policies. This particular case may not be a case of them doing it, but the stuff is out there-- and all over the place, too.

Posted by: Swan on July 2, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: Swan on July 2, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Swan,
Stop being a blogwhore.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 2, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

OT: Kevin, is your buddy "W" again ,going to throw some chump change and a photo op at Arnie for this year's immolation of California?

See what you can do. You're a Beltway Insider.

Posted by: dick tuck on July 2, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

eightnine2718281828mu5 raises an interesting point. It's not just that he's out of the county; he's a Republican who is out of the country on on our most sacred of patriotic holidays.

Both of eightnine2718281828mu5's suggestions are plausible.

1) didn't want pics comparing Obama's crowds for the 4th against his own

2) medical procedure

Posted by: anandine on July 2, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

"McCain was explaining why he was there and what he was dong [Emphasis mine] and that he would be home soon..."

I didn't know McCain was a dong, although I hope he still has one. Although, you never know what his Vietnamese captors might have done to him. That might explain why Cindy the Beer Queen looks so grim all the time...

On a more serious note, American conservatives have had a love affair with right-wing paramilitary groups in South America (let's call them "death squads) for a long time. I guess they admire their gunplay and the way they slaughter innocent civilians for political ends, which they are still a little constrained from doing in the U.S. I'll wager McCain gets wood from hearing the tales of gunning down innocent peasants down there, notwithstanding the "dong" reference in Kevin's post.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 2, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe if FARC kidnaps him and holds him hostage he'll become even more qualified to handle foreign affairs?

That's just silly. Being captured by the enemy only counts if you're in a plane and shot down. Sorry, that's just how these things work.

Posted by: Josh R. on July 2, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

'John McCain saying that being shot down and being a POW qualifies him to be Commander-In-Chief is like some guy saying that getting beat up and locked in a car trunk qualifies him to drive in the Daytona 500.'
--G. Dewan

Posted by: Quotation Man on July 2, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Investor's Business Daily thinks McCain is going to Colombia to show his support for free trade between our country and theirs.

USA Today agrees. They praise his trips to Colombia, Mexico and Canada as being principled, rather than political.

It's also a noteworthy contrast that whereas Obama has pledged to meet with various adversaries, McCain is busy visiting our allies.

Posted by: David on July 2, 2008 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

McCain supports the Columbian Free Trade Agreement and Obama opposes it.

McCain's travels are probably to earn a few foreign policy bona fides (to counter Wes Clark's dismissal of his lack of leadership skills), to learn more and to shore up support with two important conservative foreign leaders. By championing the Columbian FTA in the Senate McCain may mend a couple of fences with Hispanic voters here in the US and promote an issue that will separate him from Obama, force Obama to appear negative. Obama opposes the agreement in part because of the assassinations of so many Colombian labor leader. So support for Colombian Free Trade could be a strategy to make Obama look like he's in the pocket of organized labor.

Apparently Harper is serving as a go-between between the US and Columbia on the Free Trade Agreement. Looks like Bush may be trying to end his troubled tenure on an up-note by being able to accomplish a Colombian FTA and giving McCain something positive to champion in the Senate during the run-up to the election. Needless to say, both Uribe and Harper are conservatives.

The article below is posted on www.bilaterals.org.


Embassy, December 19th, 2007

Colombia Thanks Harper for Trade Deal Lobbying

Luis Plata is grateful Stephen Harper is doing what he can to forward free trade between Colombia and the U.S., but opposition MPs in Ottawa are more suspicious of the leader’s motives.

By Lee Berthiaume

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s role in lobbying the United States Congress to ratify its free trade deal with Colombia has been warmly acknowledged by the Latin American nation’s government amidst mounting opposition to Canada’s efforts to ink an agreement of its own.

This has prompted accusations that the Bush administration and Harper government are using Canadian goodwill in the region to forward their mutual agenda, as opposed to Canada representing an alternative to the American and Bolivarian models.

When negotiators from Canada and the Andean nations of Peru and Colombia wrapped up the third round of talks in Bogota on Oct. 5, Luis Plata, Colombia’s minister of commerce, industry and tourism, made a statement that was posted on his ministry’s website.

"This is a very complex treaty," Mr. Plata said in spanish of the free trade agreement between Canada and Colombia. "It covers many different fields and disciplines, and it cannot be taken lightly."

Mr. Plata described bilateral relations as "excellent," noting that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and Mr. Harper spoke on the phone the previous day about the negotiations, amongst other things.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on July 2, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's also a noteworthy contrast that whereas Obama has pledged to meet with various adversaries, McCain is busy visiting our allies.

Posted by: David

What is noteworthy is that McCain is actaully doing something and BHO is just talking about it. I love it!

Posted by: on July 2, 2008 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

In Columbia, cocaine is cheap. Someone had better inspect McDodo's bags.

Posted by: Brojo on July 2, 2008 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Could it be that he can get cheap young prostitutes there, children to have sex with?

Posted by: on July 2, 2008 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Fat White Guy and I probably agree on very little, but he is right on this one. Obama has shown that he is all talk and no action.

In fact, it is worse than that, he will say whatever is politically expedient and then do what his corporate masters demand.

FISA is just one example, but the most egregious because he proclaims to be a constitutional scholar.

Posted by: on July 2, 2008 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

the language you use frames this as an 'age' issue - McCain, the old man, doesn't really know what he's doing, oh my. That may indeed be true -but please don't pretend that's not what you're doing Kevin et al.

Shouldn't you Obama lovers be talking about the 'faith based initiative' crap? Shouldn't you be explaining how you rejected Hillary because of the whole Clintonian triangulation stuff and now your precious one Obama is doing the exact same thing? I should really be expecting unending blog analysis of that - not callow attacks on McCain's age. Well, on second thought, not suprising I guess.

Posted by: overmaan on July 2, 2008 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

overmaan: the language you use frames this as an 'age' issue

Why is that? We have a much younger president now, who also doesn't know what he's doing. Age has nothing to do with it.

Posted by: thersites on July 2, 2008 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

sorry to say, overmaan is right - obama is not the man the blogosphere proclaimed him to be. He is a corporate shill.

Mark my works - HE WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR DISMANTLING SOCIAL SECURITY just like it took a democrat, clinton, to dismantle welfare.

The democratic party (pelosi, reid, hoyer, harman, obama, clinton etc...) answer to the same corporate interests.

Reagan could not have ended welfare, it took a democrat. I am afraid the rest of the agenda that chimpy was intalled to implement will take a democrat too.

Posted by: on July 2, 2008 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

Will McCain take credit for the rescue of those hostages in Columbia?

Posted by: lampwick on July 2, 2008 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

It isn't "politics" or "optics," or anything Rovian. This entire trip is sponsored by ExxonMobil and it's all about laying the groundwork for getting ExxonMobil a piece of the impending-Mexican-Oil-privatization pie, as well as diversifying Colombia's portfolio. At least that's the word down here in Mexico City.

Plus, the CIA and big pharma have a pretty vested interest in keeping tabs on the drug trade.

Posted by: Joel on July 2, 2008 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

I think we now know why the sudden trip to Columbia. Wanna bet he pops off that plane with the freed hostages when it lands in Texas tonight?

He was probably tipped and is using using this as a photo-opp.

Posted by: bob5540 on July 2, 2008 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

U.S. trade policy in Colombia is inconsistent with the stated goals of the U.S. government’s drug war policy.

From the CIA factbook: illicit producer of coca, opium poppy, and cannabis; world's leading coca cultivator with 144,000 hectares in coca cultivation in 2005, a 26% increase over 2004, producing a potential of 545 mt of pure cocaine; the world's largest producer of coca derivatives; supplies cocaine to most of the US market

Posted by: Jet on July 2, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Optical immoral Republican wrote:

Stop being a blogwhore.

You must have meant "Stop having non-troll-approved opinions, and trying to promote them."

Kevin's officially a troll with a blog. That can't feel great.

Posted by: Swan on July 3, 2008 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, when did it start seeming like the right the to do to start listening to the same type of people who control Fox News, and deleting who they tell you to delete, and publishing what they tell you to post?

You're right down there with people who photoshop pics of NYT reporters.

Your father must have neglected some element of your upbringing. What do you think is going to happen to you if you stop obeying them? Chinese wet noodle torture?

Stop being such a wimp.

Posted by: Swan on July 3, 2008 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Kev, why don't you write a post about how Obama should call for Iran to be invaded or about how criticizing McCain's military record is off the table.

We'd naturally like to hear your fresh, intelligent take on these varied subjects. After all, this is why you were hired as a blogger, right? To present your excellent point of view?

Well, maybe they'll let you let off some steam and write something more original than that, first. Can't have you over-heating and getting rebellious and suspicious, after all. You'll be a much less comfortable slave to keep around, then.

Posted by: Swan on July 3, 2008 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

McCain went to Colombia for the big hostage rescue, the same way police chiefs sometimes go along on a big bust. Publicity.

Posted by: Stuart Eugene Thiel on July 3, 2008 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Swan, being a crybaby is just too embarrassing. Take a pill. I loved it when mhr got the asterisk and I will love to see yours.

Posted by: Bob M on July 3, 2008 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Please drop this whole 'free trade' thing. Ain't nothing 'free' about these bilateral trade treaties. They all serve the interests of a narrow and very wealthy minority.

"It all comes back to cash. Environmental, health care and war policies divide moneyed interests. But nothing unites them like trade pacts crafted to drive wages and public interest laws into the ground. Every corporate campaign donor rallies around that, especially when politicians and the media morph the trade debate into a caricatured contest between anachronistic protectionism and enlightened internationalism, rather than what it really is: a choice between pragmatic reform and selling out." - David Sirota
Posted by: MsNThrope on July 3, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Stuart nails it, especially since Columbia gave him an advance heads up. It's to boost his "anti-terror" chops.

I suppose we'll have to watch a terrorist moose get arrested when Schmuck Talk goes north of the border.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on July 3, 2008 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Message for Mr. Swan from Immoral Optical Republican Cat

Posted by: the wisdom of swan on July 3, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's first stop is in Bogota, to check Colombian fields.

The natives smile and pass along a sample of their yield.

Posted by: Neil Peart on July 3, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Here's what I don't get. So McCain is in Colombia, maybe because of Charlie Black's lobbying ties, but while he is there -- for no apparent reason -- the biggest story in world news for the day occurs in Colombia -- the rescue of 15 FARC hostages -- and McCain cna't figure out how to insert himself into the story. Here's a guy -- McCain -- who was himself a captive for 5-plus years. You'd think that he and his campaign would have called in a chit with either the U.S. or Colombian government and been offered the chance to be photographed with the three American contractors who were among those freed. That he didn't think of that or was unable to do it shows that his campaign is incredibly amateurish and seems to have no ability to react in real time to real events. That would seem to be a skill required of a president, however.

Posted by: Scott on July 3, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Scott,

Maybe McCain did try for a photo op with the released hostages and the hostages refused . . .

Posted by: pj in jesusland on July 3, 2008 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

It occurred to me that maybe McCain got a heads up from the military or the administration that this hostage thing was in the works, and that's one reason for the trip. But if he did, Scott is right that he didn't make very good use of the opportunity. And I suppose it's unlikely he would have been informed.

Posted by: BWR on July 3, 2008 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe not so peculiar. Check this out:
http://narcosphere.narconews.com/thefield/so-thats-why-mccain-went-colombia

Posted by: !!! on July 4, 2008 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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