Man Without Qualities

Monday, May 03, 2004

Pathetic ... And Bound To Lose XXXVI: More Winning Through Nuance! (Or, Where Did All The "Outsourcing" Go?)

The Man Without Qualities has been unfair to John Kerry by not noting that he has been crystal clear in at least one important area of the campaign, outsourcing:

The practice of moving work out of the country to reduce production costs, often called outsourcing, has become an enormous political issue in an election year. John Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, has been blunt in his criticism of outsourcing. "We're going to shut down any incentive, any reward or any kind of benefit for any Benedict Arnold company or CEO that takes American jobs overseas and sticks the American people with the bill," Kerry has said.

Well, that seems pretty clear-cut and lacking in nuance. Surely I owe the Senator an apology. So does Rich Lowry.

But I suppose that was long ago and in another country and, besides, the interest group of the moment is different - because the Wall Street Journal tells us this morning that John Kerry says he is actually not opposed to "outsourcing," and, in fact, he defends it:

He defends the right of corporations to outsource jobs outside the U.S. despite rising public anxiety. ... Yet Mr. Kerry also knows he faces skepticism in the business community, where there are worries about his aggressive environmentalism and bruises from his primary-season references to "Benedict Arnold CEOs" -- a line he used to criticize those who took advantage of overseas tax shelters. When Mr. Kerry walked into a private meeting with 60 top executives in Washington's St. Regis Hotel last month, for instance, Pfizer Inc. Chairman Henry McKinnell greeted him by observing, "Senator, I want you to know there are no Benedict Arnold companies here," as Mr. Kerry recalls. The senator says he explained that he meant to criticize only executives who seek to manipulate their tax liability by nominally shifting corporate headquarters, or even their citizenship, abroad.

Hooooooooo-boy! And if the Pfizer Chairman bought that one I've got a bridge over the East River that I'm sure he'll want to have Pfizer snap up now - before interest rates go up.

But perhaps the most interesting thing about Senator Kerry's latest whopping lie - er, I mean, "nuanced refinement" - is the extent to which this most recent and bizarre flip-flop indicates how quickly the "outsourcing" issue has died as a hot issue in this campaign. Funny how that often happens when the real economic structure of free trade consequences starts to get examined in a little more detail than the demagogues prefer. Was it the studies showing that the US has lots more hi-tech "insourcing" than "outsourcing?" Or maybe it was the latest survey from the Institute of Supply Management (ISM), showing economic activity in the manufacturing sector growing in April for the 11th consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 30th consecutive month and the ISM manufacturing employment index grew for the sixth consecutive month.

There are so many possibilities!

UPDATE: The same Wall Street Journal puff piece repeats the claim that Senator Kerry "helped found a Boston cookie company that still survives, and he invokes his background as an entrepreneur."

But in today's edition of "OpinionJounal's Political Diary" John Fund reveals that not only did John Kerry steal the cookie business he supposedly founded, but he then later tried to sell it back to the person he stole it from.

Don Luskin has more of the story.

There really seems to be no bottom to John Kerry's baloney reserve.

FURTHER UPDATE: Kausfiles has lots of good musings about Kerry outsourcing baloney, including lots of links to other commenters pulling their jaws off their desks.

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