You know something’s up when The Wall Street Journal editorial board gives President Obama “three cheers” for anything. You really know something’s up when it praises him for lying to voters during the campaign.

But Gigot & Co. are willing to overlook a little cynical manipulation by Democrats—when it works in favor of the the page’s globalist/corporatist agenda.

This one’s about free trade, surprisingly enough—an issue the people have been manipulated on for years because they overwhelmingly oppose it, but the elite do not.

Obama, campaigning for Rust Belt votes, said this about NAFTA:

“I will make sure that we renegotiate… I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage…” He differentiated himself from his current secretary of state by arguing that he had been a consistent opponent of NAFTA while she had occasionally seemed to favor the agreement.

But his campaign adviser winked at the Canadians, telling them Obama was just blowing smoke by catering to what people actually wanted:

Perhaps we should call this Austan Goolsbee’s revenge. Recall that last year the Obama economic adviser had told a Canadian diplomat to ignore Mr. Obama’s Nafta campaign rhetoric; the candidate was merely pandering to Big Labor. When that disclosure became news, Mr. Goolsbee was banished to the campaign’s isolation ward for imperfect spinners. Now we know Mr. Goolsbee — not the candidate — was the one telling the truth.

Now, no dice. Of course, the middle of a recession or depression is not the time to go upsetting the balance of trade. But does anyone really believe Obama wasn’t just cynically trolling for votes on that issue, that he really planned to renegotiate NAFTA?

I don’t think so. The WSJ edit page apparently feared Obama would keep his word.

Lucky for them, he’s a politician.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.