A few years ago, Ben Affleck told GQ: “My fantasy is that someday I’m independently wealthy enough that I’m not beholden to anybody, so I can run for Congress on the grounds that everyday people Ã¢â?¬â?? be they singers or poets or bankers or lawyers or teachers Ã¢â?¬â?? should be in government.” So it’s not surprising that he’d be all over the convention, even weighing in on big issues: Affleck told a group of reporters that runaway production is the “probably the most important issue facing the state of California today.” The issue plays into the Democratic campaign to stop industrial outsourcing, where companies move jobs overseas to take advantage of lower wages and more favorable exchange rates. “It’s criminal,” Affleck said of the studios’ decisions to make more and more movies and TV shows in Canada and other countries. “It makes me sick. I can’t stand it.” Funny how Ben’s ramping up the protectionist rhetoric just as his man Kerry and the rest of the Dems seem to ramping down. Tim Blair points out that Edwards’ convention speech paid little attention to outsourcing, offering only this: We’re gonna stop giving tax breaks to companies that outsource your jobs. Instead, we will give tax breaks to American companies that keep jobs here in America. Meanwhile Laura Tyson, who would likely be highly placed economic adviser in a Kerry administration, assures us that “a Kerry-Edwards administration will continue in the great American tradition of leading the way on global economic integration.” Kerry himself is backing away from the whole “traders as traitors” theme. In May he “clarified” his position on Benedict Arnold CEOs. “The Benedict Arnold line applied, you know, I called a couple of times to overzealous speechwriters and said, ‘Look, that’s not what I’m saying.’ Benedict Arnold does not refer to somebody who in the normal course of business is going to go overseas and take jobs overseas. That happens. I support that. I understand that. I was referring to the people who take advantage of non-economic transactions purely for tax purposes — sham transactions — and give up American citizenship. That’s a Benedict Arnold. You give up your American citizenship but you want to continue to do business and deduct and do everything else. That’s what I’m referring to.” Good news that Dems seem to be deemphasizing protectionism. Perhaps Clinton reminded conventioneers that you can be a Dem and still like free trade.
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.