Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Not Ready For Prime Time?

Remember Rick Mercer's "interview" with George Bush, in his Talking To Americans series? Mercer made Bush look like an ignorant fool, with his reference to Prime Minister Jean Poutine. In the spirit of non-partisan fairness, Barrack Obama's gaffe is every bit the equal:
U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama, already under fire from fellow Democratic candidates for his supposed inexperience and unguarded comments on American foreign policy issues, is raising eyebrows again after vowing to telephone the "president of Canada" if elected to the White House to begin renegotiating terms of the NAFTA trade deal.

The titular miscue came Tuesday night during a discussion of trade and labour issues at a Democratic debate in the Illinois senator's home base of Chicago.

"I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada, to try to amend NAFTA, because I think that we can get labour agreements in that agreement right now," Mr. Obama said. "And it should reflect the basic principle that our trade agreements should not just be good for Wall Street; it should also be good for Main Street."

It is a bit hard to take Obama seriously on free trade, when he doesn't even have a basic understanding of the players. A minor error in the grand scheme, but the miscue clearly plays into the perception that Obama is a lightweight, when it comes to foreign policy experience.

Obama is already under attack from his rivals, who are trying to frame him as too inexperienced to assume the world's most important office. The Canada reference re-inforces that notion, and I confess some disappointment that he lacks the most basic of knowledge of America's biggest trading partner. The "not ready for prime time" moniker just found another point of reference.


Anonymous said...

He can telephone the President of Canada if we become a republic between 2009 to 2017.

Anonymous said...

On hearing Obama's comment, Harper stood up and pointing a finger at his chest said, "that'd be me!"

Koby said...

Bullocks. It is a tempest in a teapot. It could very well just be a slip of the tongue. Bush's comment on the other hand can not be explained away. Moreover, Bush's comment was just further confirmation that he knows very little about world affairs. There are many more "Bushisms" of this sort.

Canadian Tar Heel said...

Mushroom, Anon and Koby,

All good points.

Not that it excuses the candidate, but I wonder how many state leaders I could name along with their proper titles. Post idea? Not sure.

Thanks, Steve.

Steve V said...


I'm willing to bet that if Obama was asked the name of the President of Canada, he wouldn't know. I understand what you are saying, but if a Republican had answered the same, we would be all over it.

ottlib said...

If the election of George W. Bush (twice!?!) proves anything, it is Americans do not believe foreign policy experience or smarts is necessary to do the job.

At any rate, the only foreign policy issue that will be important in the next US election will be what to do about Iraq. Anything else will be ignored.

So, the candidates will be judged on how they articulate and flesh-out a strategy for extricating the US from Iraq.

Steve V said...


Agreed on that, but Clinton does receive more ammunition in painting Obama as inexperienced.

Koby said...

Steve: Well, if he did not know, he certainly knows now. Anyway, yes Obama has been accused of being a foreign policy light weight, but not because there is pattern of him making basic factual errors such as this. He did not refer to Greeks as Grecians or ask the president of Brazil if there sizable black population in his country, for example. Bush, on the other hand, did just that.

Steve V said...


This is true :)

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

I too am disappointed he made this gaffe and this is from someone who has generally been supportive of him. Still much like most countries including Canada, foreign policy rarely determines who wins. It only has an impact when it war and the war is going badly as is the case in Iraq.

Besides if unsure, he could have said leaders of Canada and Mexico as leader can be either a PM or President.

I do however, plan to be supportive of whoever the Democrats choose since the Republicans clearly need a time out.