Wisconsin is Obama’s Put Up or Shut Up Time
The right wing attack on unions has spread throughout 16 states so far, and there is no reason it won’t spread farther. Republicans have a political stake in targeting a significant funding and organizational force for Democrats, the teabaggers seethe with misplaced resentment against public employees, and words like “austerity” and “fiscal discipline” and “deficit” occupy Bieber-ish rotation on the punditry playlist.
So it is remarkable that the protests in Wisconsin are entering their second week, and have inspired similar public demonstrations in the rest of the country. It is really, really tempting to analogize Egypt — and when GOP lawmakers block Internet access to a lefty website supporting the Wisconsin protesters or when Scott Walker admits to having “thought about” using agents provocateur to disrupt the protests*, it’s hard to resist invoking the Mubarak regime’s last desperate efforts to forestall its eventual demise. Hopefully he won’t go full-on Ghadaffi.
But Wisconsin is not Egypt, certainly not Libya. We need to be much more organized and leveraged among other active elements of society to pull off that kind of revolution. Until then, however, it sure would be swell if the recipients of so much financial and grassroots support from labor would return the favor at this critical moment. Kudos to the 14 Wisconsin state senators boycotting the quorum. But I’m tawkin’ about da Prezzy-dent. The more librul commentators at MSNBC have been beating the drum that President Obama should fulfill his campaign promise to defend collective bargaining rights. Maybe it’s a lot to expect a President to, in his campaign words, “put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States.” But if Dubya could stand on rubble and bellow through a bullhorn….
But such a stand would complicate his relationship with school reformers like Michelle Rhee. Or make his Fight For Scraps — sorry, I mean his Race To The Top program look like the attack on neighborhood schools in poor districts that it is. These are weapons in the ongoing class warfare against the middle class and the poor. Which side is Obama really on?
* Yes, I feel some hometown pride to learn that the prankster impersonating David Koch is a Buffalonian.