By Martin Bosworth
I’ve been trying to embrace the idea of a Barack Obama presidency. The guy strikes a lot of the right notes–eloquent, charismatic, smart, persuasive, idealistic–and has a lot of the right positions (Against the Iraq war, against the bankruptcy bill, etc.), but sometimes that whole “inexperience” meme that gets tossed around where he’s concerned demonstrates a grain of truth.
Consider this August 25 article in which he talks about Republicans he’d work with. Most of the article is your typical Obama “above-the-fray” high-mindedness, but the very last paragraph stuck out at me like a fork in the eye:
“It’s one thing if China is producing our Barbie dolls, it’s another thing if China is producing our silicon chips,” Obama said. “We have to have some sense strategically of what are those things that are vital to our national interests and national security. Those need to be manufactured here.”
For Obama to say this right after Mattel agreed to recall thousands of Chinese-made toys due to lead paint contamination was just as tone-deaf as it comes. Since he made that statement, there have been even more recalls, threats of lawsuits, and a joint agreement between the U.S. and China to ban lead paint usage in toy manufacturing. All this happened under the aegis of the increasingly ineffective and budget-starved Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Let’s be honest–national security and spycraft may be sexier than product recalls, child safety, pet food recalls, and the like. But the idea of your child being harmed by a defective toy or your pet dying from badly made food is a lot more immediate to most people’s lives than the dangers from the espionage game. The fact that our families are at risk from bad product safety thanks to the Bush regime’s crushing of consumer protection resources is an egregious offense, not least because it plays up how the globalized economy has resulted in Chinese people working for pittance wages, in terrible conditions, producing dangerous products that are just rubber-stamped and put on the market to please Bush’s business allies.
If I were Obama, I’d be all over this as a major campaign topic and using it as a wedge issue to frame how our country is falling apart on an economic and social level. But apparently Obama doesn’t consider the safety and health of children and animals in the national public interest. Good thing that I can think of one other Democratic presidential candidate that does.