Susan Ariel Aaronson, an Associate Research Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University, tries to defend Barack Obama on trade with an article at Voxeu.org:
Around the world, the press has portrayed the 2008 US presidential election as a choice between freer trader John McCain and “protectionist” Barack Obama. That traditional paradigm has helped the media simplify the differences between the two men. However, such these labels do not accurately describe either candidate. And it does not fully portray the candidate, Mr Obama, who has the more optimistic vision of trade.
Her argument is that although he wants to include “global governance” issues such as labor and environmental rules in trade agreements that Obama is really in favor of free trade. Of course, that assumes that agreements can be reached on these other items, which I find highly doubtful. The US should not be dictating labor and environmental standards to other countries. While it sounds good to say we are trying to protect workers in these countries the reality is that adhering to our standards will mean that many of these workers won’t have jobs at all. Given that choice, my guess is that these foreign workers would tell Obama to mind his own business.
Free trade does not require any negotiation. A true free trade agreement would need to be no longer than one sentence.