Colombia Free Trade

Dear Colombian Government,

I am sad to hear that you fired Mark Penn and his firm because Penn got caught in a political crossfire between the interests of your nation and the interests of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. OK, I lied. I am not sad. You did exactly the right thing to fire him. If you want to hire somebody who actually believes in democracy and the power of free commerce and free trade, I am available to help.

The fact of the matter is that as the oldest democracy in South America, Colombia is very important to the United States. Our history together is complicated. Our trade relationship hasn’t always been productive. Sadly, we import most of the illegal narcotics that are produced by your powerful and deadly drug gangs. The drug trade has been bad for everybody except the drug dealers. It has been bad for your democracy and it has been bad for the millions of American drug addicts who turn to crime to pay for their deadly habit.

Recently, you have made great strides in cleaning up the drug gangs. It hasn’t been easy. Some elements of our government have tried to help, by supplying you the firepower to compete with the bad guys. Some elements of our government, especially in the Congress, have been less helpful. They see the FARC not as narco-terrorists, but rather as the modern-day version of Che Guevara. They would rather condemn the tough tactics of the Colombian government than the sheer terrorism of your drug gangs.

These same folks would also rather see the good in the thuggery of your neighbor, Hugo Chavez. Let’s not kid ourselves. Chavez is a buffoon. But he is a dangerous buffoon who has unwisely threatened to go to war with your country, and who is supporting those narco-terrorists who supply so many American kids their drugs.

The Bush administration has wisely pursued a trade agreement with your country to do three things. First, to help your economy grow so that your people can resist the temptation to export narcotics back to the United States. Second, to help your democracy become even stronger, so that you can better resist the influence of socialist dictators like Hugo Chavez. Third, to help the American people by reducing tariffs and making Colombian products cheaper for our consumers.

But to the radicals who dominate the Democratic Party, those goals are so toxic, so unpopular, so horrible, that anybody who agrees with them must be banished from the party. That is why Mark Penn was forced to resign from the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Back in the days when Hillary Clinton’s husband was president, the idea that free trade could promote democracy was patently obvious. That is why her husband pushed for NAFTA and for free trade with China. Today, despite the fact that trade is the only thing that is keeping the American economy afloat during these difficult economic times, the Democrats are now fully embracing protectionism as their chief economic philosophy.

In other words, the Democratic Party has completely lost its marbles. From its tacit support of Hugo Chavez to its reflexive rejection of the Colombian trade pact, the Democratic Party has become the home of the Che Guevara wing of America. Mark Penn may soon find, as Joe Lieberman discovered, that while he may not have left the Democrats, they certainly left him. But Penn shouldn’t have been forced to apologize for meeting with your government in order to get a free trade bill that will help both countries. The fact that he did shows how far the Democrats have traveled away from common sense and from prudence.