Japan Bashing on the Campaign Trail

The candidates are talking tough about trade, but voters think their problems were made in the U.S.A.

Twelve years ago -- back in those innocent days when candidate Ronald Reagan was pledging to balance the budget by cutting taxes, and first-time presidential contender George Bush was crowing that he was "up for the '80s" -- former Treasury Secretary John Connally embarked on a bold strategy in his quest for the G.O.P. nomination. In place of the Soviet Union and the Ayatullah's Iran, Connally concocted an entirely different American enemy: a small and peaceable island nation called Japan. Connally blustered that unless the Japanese practiced fair trade, "they'd better be prepared to sit on the docks of Yokohama in...

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