Monday, February 13, 2006

The Great Nafta Debate

Few people know that the most watched show in TV history was actually a debate... but it wasn't a presidential debate. It was between AlGore and Ross Perot... and the subject was the North American Free Trade Agreement.

As is usually the case for these things... the main topic was hardly a focal point. Gore won by flustering Perot with his needling interupting style... and this took Perot out of his game.

Gore won. Plain and simple.

Or did he?

Style points aside... is a debate really about being convincing? or is it about being right?

Gore took command early, accusing Perot of opposing the trade deal because he stood to profit personally (from the family’s Alliance Airport), and challenged him to open the books on his financing of the anti-NAFTA campaign. This of course was completely unfounded, and total BS... it didn't even make sense... but it rattled Perot and the audiance loved it.

Gore also argued that the free trade would create jobs in America, and increase profits of companies in America.

Perot famously stated that we'd hear a giant sucking sound created by all the manufacturing jobs headed south.

So who was right?

13 years later the case seems pretty clear. NAFTA is a failed experiment. The illegal immigration problem that Gore claimed NAFTA would solve has only worsened. Businesses like GM and Ford... hell... whole industries have moved south.

Free trade is a good idea.

NAFTA was a bad idea.

All the fancy debate tactics... charts... and zingers won't change that.

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