Sunday, February 26, 2012


Approximately five months ago, Salon columnist/editor Joan Walsh and academic, author, and columnist Melissa Harris-Perry squabbled about Harris-Perry's peculiar article in The Nation in which she contended that white liberals are being mean to Barack Obama.     She contended the President's "record is, at the very least, comparable to that of President Clinton, who was enthusiastically re-elected. The 2012 election is a test of whether Obama will be held to standards never before imposed on an incumbent. If he is, it may be possible to read that result as the triumph of a more subtle form of racism."

Walsh effectively rebutted her charges, prompting a response from Harris-Perry to Walsh in which the former insisted that the latter had inaccurately referred to her as a "friend."       It had been a horrid insult, referring to Harris-Perry as a friend, and Walsh was properly dressed down for such an unconscionable transgression.      Not surprisingly, a few months after her racially-based attack on liberals and on Walsh, Harris-Perry was given a regular hosting gig on the Network That Dare Not Speak Ill Of Barack Obama.

Ever polite and still somewhat (realistically) pro-Obama, Walsh refused to note that she merely had been holding to a high standard someone who, as a candidate, had assured an enthusiastic audience that future generations would recognize "this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal …"

President Obama, of course, has been held to a far lower standard than he claimed for himself over three years ago-  and still has little better than a 50-50 shot to defeat a candidate of a party driving itself over an ideological cliff.        Meanwhile, there are reasons aplenty for liberals to be disappointed in, and even dissatisfied with, the President.     Nonetheless, they are sticking by him and most for reasons beyond recognizing him as the lesser, or least, of evils.

Such unrequited loyalty has of late been characteristic of organized labor, including the National Education Association and the Communication Workers of America.      The NEA, apparently grateful for the appointment as Education Secretary a Chicagoan intent on undermining the public school system, who has continued to pursue policies inimical to the interests of teachers and schoolchildren, endorsed Obama for re-election over seven months ago.      

In 2010, members appointed by the President to the National Mediation Board adopted a rule making it easier for railroad and airline workers to unionize.       However, four days after the Communication Workers of America endorsed Obama for re-election on February 2, 2012, the Senate approved a reauthorization bill for the Federal Aviation Administration.       Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Veda Shook believes, as Josh Eidelson at Slate explains, that the legislation  

By packing an employee list with ex-workers or challenging voter eligibility, management would have new opportunities to delay or avert an election despite majority support.  By legislating election rules, the bill would enable management to call workers who signed cards to be questioned as part of discovery in an anti-union lawsuit.  When a larger non-union company merged with a smaller unionized company, the bill would make it possible for management to cease recognizing the union, with no election at all.

In a furious speech, CWA International president Larry Cohen charged that Democratic leaders had refused past requests to attach pro-union provisions to appropriations bills, but were allowing Republicans to use the FAA appropriation to force an anti-union change.

Of the bill signed by Barack Obama eight days after he was endorsed by the union, Cohen charged  “The leadership in the Senate didn’t even see fit to include [the pro-labor NMB rule] in this gutting of the statute …  Our little crumb of an advancement is left as a rule, so the day that there’s ever a Republican president elected … they’re going to strip the rule.  The statute will remain.  It’s worse than it’s ever been.”

Barack Obama intends to renew his lease on the White House by virtue of support of independents, and liberals are mere collateral damage.     While there was little doubt that the CWA and the NEA evntually would endorse his re-election bid, they hastened to do so before they could extract a quid pro quo or at least something in return.      They sent the message of some many of those white liberals Melissa Harris-Perry finds insufficiently obsequious- that they can be had, and had cheaply.

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