Leadership needed on China

Key vote: Maryland's Cardin knows how to separate politics and self-interest from policy.

May 17, 2000

MARYLANDERS know Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin as a thoughtful and principled man, a public official who understands the issues -- including, no doubt, the Clinton administration's important proposal to grant normal trading status to China.

Mr. Cardin's vote and his moral suasion are critically important as this bill nears crucial votes. He can be more than a vote for the bill here. He can be a leader and teacher.

Mr. Cardin knows the politics, of course. He wouldn't be where he is -- in line to become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee some day -- otherwise.

Labor, a critical Democratic constituency, opposes the bill. But Mr. Cardin has backed several major Clinton trade initiatives opposed by the unions, such as the North America Free Trade Agreement, (NAFTA), which lowered barriers to U.S. trade with Mexico.

And Mr. Cardin has it easier than some legislators. He has virtually no opposition in this year's election. So labor can't really hurt him.

Moreover, he represents a savvy, well-informed, Washington-oriented constituency. From the perspective of voters, his decision should be easy enough. President Clinton is leaning as heavily on him as the unions are.

What he ought to do is vote for the bill, explain why it's not a threat to the jobs of U.S. workers and assume some of the important teaching responsibilities that go along with public life.

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