Despite all the ballyhoo surrounding Quebec City, the years of lobbying and the extravagant security precautions to keep the globalphobes at bay, there is one large fly in the ointment, and its name is “fast track.” No Free Trade Area of the Americas can be created unless the U.S. president can guarantee that agreement will be approved as a whole rather than picked apart, piece by piece, in the U.S. Congress.
“When I sit down in Quebec City, I expect that I will be able to guarantee fast-track passage,” candidate Bush told Miami supporters of the global-trade pact last August. But faced with hostility from those who still question his electoral “victory” last November, and by a Congress that Republicans and Democrats divide down the middle, Bush has been unable to deliver fast track to Quebec.
Although they are loath to say so out loud, all parties concerned know perfectly well that the agreement is a fiction without fast track. Forget the grandiose Summit of the Americas. When George W. Bush sits down in Quebec to deal without fast-track authorization in his pocket, the name of the show ought to be “The Emperor Has No Clothes.”