I have written many times about U.S. trade with Colombia. Colombia has been among our truest allies in this hemisphere, in an environment that often hostile to that stand.
I'd been disappointed with Obama's failure to provide support for the proposed free trade pact with Colombia. It was part of my rational for rejecting his candidacy. While he has not pleased me on every point with regard to trade, this news is wonderful (from Investor's Business Daily):
The president announced that his team must find a way to pass the agreement.Credit must be given where it is due. Congressional Democrats may balk at passing the measure, and Obama may be tested, but this is smart politics and smart policy.
With world trade down 80%, the pact opens new markets to the U.S. He demanded immediate action, asking Colombia's trade minister to fly to Washington this week.
Then it got even better: Obama invited Uribe to the White House and
promised to visit Colombia himself, allowing the Colombians to lay out for him
their vast economic and social progress, and their desire to integrate into
In a final flourish, Obama scribbled his autograph onto President Uribe's notes, writing: "To President Uribe, with admiration! Barack H. Obama." A smiling Uribe showed it to reporters. Given Uribe's discretion, it's likely that Obama asked him to do that.
The media made much of Obama's polite gestures to dictators, but he gave them nothing resembling what he gave to Uribe. Name one dictator Obama sat with for lunch. Which troublemaker got a White House invitation? Which tinhorn got a promise to visit?
And has anyone heard of Obama giving his autograph — "with admiration!" — to another president? It was as if Obama himself unclenched his own fist to reach out to the Colombian hand. Obama may have had political reasons to seek out Colombia — the Chavez-Obama pictures didn't do him any good domestically, and Drudge Report ran pictures of them all weekend, infuriating White House officials.
But the outlook for free trade has been improving for several weeks, too. On a visit to Medellin last month, Uribe gave us a veiled signal of positive moves on trade under the surface, and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has since made encouraging statements.
On a completely unrelated note- I hate it when they lip sync the already painful group numbers on American Idol. It is extremely lame. Just wanted to share.