Senator Bernie Sanders is using Hu Jintao's visit to ask the National Museum of American History to stop selling foreign goods in the gift shop.
The last you heard from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, he was filibustering President Obama's tax-cut deal with the GOP. Today, the Independent and self-described socialist has his eyes on a different Washington target: the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
Sensing an opportunity in Chinese President Hu Jintao's stateside visit, Sanders is attacking the museum for its practice of selling tchochkes made abroad—mostly in China—in the gift shop. In a letter (pdf) to museum Director Brent Glass, Sanders writes
I do realize that the purchase of foreign products by the Smithsonian will not have a profound impact upon our massive trade deficit ... But the symbolism is extraordinary! It appears that a museum owned by the people of the United States, celebrating the history of the United States, cannot find companies in this country employing American workers that are able to manufacture statues of our founding fathers, or our current president. That is pretty pathetic!\n
Sanders goes on to lament the death of factories in the United States—42,000 have closed in the past decade alone—adding that America now has fewer factory jobs than it did in the months before Pearl Harbor. "Given the state of the American economy," he says in closing, "I would urge the National Museum of American History to do its very best to find American companies to manufacture the products that it sells."
Sounds like a reasonable idea.