Events have overtaken the news appeal of the Chicago teachers union
strike as the public’s attention has rightfully moved on to Libya, Egypt
and even perhaps the Federal Reserve’s QE3 announcement.
However, the Chicago public employee strike has the potential to be as damaging to Obama’s election campaign as anything else on the news horizon.
To understand the Obama problem, you don’t have to go very far back in time — only a few short months.
Public employee unions, including the teachers, were all in against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). Their very livelihoods and existence as they knew it were threatened by legislation he pushed through the State Legislature that put the worker, not the union, in the driver’s seat of whether they were getting value from the compulsory membership organization.
However, it wasn’t so much that the public employee unions spent millions and lost the Wisconsin recall, it was the silence by their chosen president, who attended fundraisers in adjacent states but failed to make a critical final appearance when the unions needed it most.
This Obama characteristic of leaving his allies out to dry only to posture on it later was also played out in North Carolina where the president canceled an engagement on that state’s primary election day, rather than answer how he stood on the gay-marriage initiative that was on the ballot. The very next day, after his backers in the gay and lesbian community had been badly defeated, Obama made his “bold” announcement supporting homosexual marriage.
The announcement was just 24 hours too late to provide help to his allies in the swing state of North Carolina.
Obama’s silence on the Chicago teachers union strike is eerily similar in that the president appears to be leaving his friends and backers in the lurch during a time of need.
However, the situation this time is different. The president needs every public employee union right now to pull behind his reelection. An ironic task, given that he has run as far from them as he can get when they are politically too hot for him to handle.
One wonders how enthusiastic these unions will be for another four years of being used as props for political purposes while being shunned when they are in need.
Perhaps this explains the dearth of enthusiasm for Obama on the campaign trail. His supporters have seen his self-serving acts up close and personal already, and just can’t get that lovin’ feeling again as a result.
Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the communications director of Americans for Limited Government.