Can Omar Khan Do For The TPP What Rahm Emanuel Did For NAFTA?
In 2002, when young Omar Khan got a job as an intern in Nancy Pelosi's congressional office, NAFTA had already been passed and signed into law by Bill Clinton. An initiative of Big Business, Wall Street and the Republican Party, George H.W. Bush, who negotiated it, had been unable to get Congress to fast track and pass it before he was defeated by Bill Clinton-- who promptly assured Bush, Big Business and Wall Street he would get it passed-- which he did. Pelosi was among the minority of Democrats who backed NAFTA.
Clinton hired Rahm Emanuel, then a little known White House aide already fashioning himself an image as a bully and an asshole, to ride roughshod over reticent Democrats opposing job killing "free" trade policies. With Tom DeLay working one side of the aisle and Emanuel working the other side, they bribed, blackmailed and beat up enough Members of the House to get NAFTA passed 234-200. 132 Republicans and 102 Democrats voted for it. 156 Democrats (+ Independent Bernie Sanders) voted no, as did 43 Republicans.
Today, Obama finds himself trying to fast track and pass an even worse trade bill than NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He has far more Republican support-- plus support from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- than Democratic Party support. Rahm is busy fighting for his political life in Chicago, where most Democrats have come to despise him, so Obama hired another hack loyalist to try to help get Democrats behind the fatally flawed TPP. Omar Khan, a former OFA eager beaver who most recently oversaw Charlie Christ's catastrophic campaign for governor of Florida is supposed to do for the TPP what Rahm did for NAFTA. Khan's official title will be Assistant Federal Trade Representative for intergovernmental and public engagement but his task is to persuade Democrats to back the TPP.
Khan has some relationships in Congress based on a short stint as the director of congressional relations for the Hurricane Sandy Recovery Task Force in 2013 and as the congressional laison for HUD's Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations for 2 years starting in 2009. He has a reputation for being a nice guy, the polar opposite of Rahm Emanuel. He's not a thug nor an arm-breaker. Can he do for the TPP what Emamuel did for NAFTA? We'll soon see, but I'd bet no. If Obama gets this garbage through, it's going to be almost entirely with the support of Republicans and New Dems, the corrupt Republican wing of the Democratic Party.