Obama: Reproductive Rights and NAFTA

[Before accusing me of attacking Obama or being a shill for Hillary or having some kind of nefarious motivation, please bear in mind that Obama is now the frontrunner; we all have a vested interest in challenging the Democratic frontrunner on weak points, especially now, before the general election, when the GOP will start doing it—and going after him much harder than I ever will.]

Zuzu takes a look at some of Obama's more concerning comments on the issue of reproductive rights and tries to divine exactly what his real positions are—something she might not have to do if he, say, had a women's issues and/or reproductive rights section of his website. (Update: There is one here; it is, however, not part of the "Issues" section, but accessible through the "People" section, by clicking on "Women" and then "Learn" in the righthand column.) As long as legal abortion, emergency contraception, and comprehensive sex education continue to be issues in state legislatures, Congress, and the courts, every Democratic campaign should have a page dedicated to delineating her or his positions on these topics, which so intimately affect women. (Well, at least he's got one for "sportsmen.") Anyway, Zuzu pieces bits together from disparate sources, to try to paint a whole picture.
[T]o his credit, he does come out strongly [on the RH Issues Questionnaire] for comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education and calls abstinence-only out as the boondoggle it is; he also supports confidential access to contraception and reproductive health care for teenagers, as well as over-the-counter access to EC. He's even against the Hyde Amendment and wants to cut off federal funding to crisis pregnancy centers.

So I'm left wondering at the disconnect between his responses to the RH Issues Questionnaire and his responses to Mr. Innocent Sweet Babies. He (or, rather, his staff) responded to the questionnaire with simple, clear answers that gave due consideration to the concerns of parents, but which took a clearly pro-choice position. But to Mr. Innocent Sweet Babies, he hemmed and hawed and volunteered answers that sounded like right-wing talking points about responsibility and the degree to which women should be entitled to exercise control over their bodies and their sex lives.
So it's a mixed bag; there's a disconnect between his positions and his rhetoric, which is of course, not the first time. Once again, the end result appears to require that women trust him that he's on our side while he talks out the other side of his mouth to people who "believe that women should have some control over their bodies and themselves" and that the decision regarding abortion "generally is one that a woman should make."

Meanwhile, Susie Madrak points to a report that "a top staff member for Obama's campaign telephoned Michael Wilson, Canada's ambassador to the United States, and warned him that Obama would speak out against NAFTA, according to Canadian sources. The staff member reassured Wilson that the criticisms would only be campaign rhetoric, and should not be taken at face value."

A spokesperson for the Obama campaign originally "said the staff member's warning to Wilson sounded implausible, but did not deny that contact had been made." Now Campaign Obama says the report is "inaccurate" and they "are currently reaching out to the Canadian embassy to correct this inaccuracy."
From Obama spokesperson Bill Burton: "The news reports on Obama's position on NAFTA are inaccurate and in no way represent Senator Obama's consistent position on trade. When Senator Obama says that he will forcefully act to make NAFTA a better deal for American workers, he means it. Both Canada and Mexico should know that, as president, Barack Obama will do what it takes to create and protect American jobs and strengthen the American economy -- that includes amending NAFTA to include labor and environmental standards. We are currently reaching out to the Canadian embassy to correct this inaccuracy."
I'm not sure that sufficiently contradicts the report that sotto voce reassurances were given to the ambassador; I'd prefer something that left no doubt the leading Democratic candidate wasn't planning to hoodwink Democratic voters. That he conspired with a foreign government official to do so is a pretty serious charge. "The report is inaccurate" seems a bit flaccid in response. I hope something stronger is forthcoming.

UPDATE: Canadian Embassy denies anyone from Obama's campaign (or any other) contacted them.

As I said in comments, Obama should begin to talk about this story like a constructed smear job. Given that the story plays perfectly into the Right's two anti-Obama memes—"Scary Foreigner" and "He's Unpatriotic"—he should address that head-on and treat the story like a plant.

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