The pledge in 2007 at a Spartanburg, SC rally could not have been clearer. Barack Obama, then campaigning as an underdog to Hillary Clinton and in desperate need of union support, told a crowd that he would join picket lines as President to keep workers from being denied collective bargaining rights. In fact, Obama said he’d dig up a pair of comfortable shoes to walk the line himself to defend union positions around the country, as the Daily Caller remembers:
If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself — I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America.
That is exactly the scenario claimed by public employee unions in Wisconsin, and not without some merit. Governor Scott Walker’s proposal would limit collective bargaining for most PEUs to wages only, not pensions and benefits, in order to allow the state and localities enough flexibility to balance budgets. So when will Obama put on those comfy shoes? CNBC’s host wanted to know that as well, and last night asked one of the Fleebaggers, state Senator Fred Risser, that same question. Risser said that Obama was a busy man this week:
He’s made several pronouncements in support of what we’re doing and I would not be surprised if he had other matters to keep him busy. But he has publicly announced that he supports the working people. The great middle class in this country is based on the fact that the workers have certain rights. We don’t want the workers’ rights to be eliminated by a fast track, speedy, under suspension of the rules bill which the governor has proposed. That’s why we walked out to give people time to find out what’s really going on.
Well, if that was the case, then the Fleebaggers should already be back — right? Their flight from Wisconsin made this a national story, and it’s fair to conclude that everyone has found out “what’s really going on.” The Assembly debated it for 61 hours, or almost 2 1/2 times the amount of time allowed by Democrats for both chambers of the legislature for their budget-repair bill when they controlled the state.
The promise by Obama was foolish from the beginning, and demonstrated just how little experience he had with executive office. Of course he’s too busy to walk a picket line. But contra Risser, Obama’s been backpedaling on the fight in Wisconsin ever since his ignorant answer on which unions got affected and how. He’s finding the running shoes a lot more comfy now than the picket-walking shoes Obama promised in 2007.
Earlier today, a few readers expressed their disapproval with the continuing use of the term “fleebagger” to describe Wisconsin state Senators who fled the legislature rather than do their jobs. I like the term, but let’s ask readers. Should we continue to use it or not? Take the poll!