RSS
The White House's anti-union gaffe
Will a feud over Sen. Blanche Lincoln's re-election bid alienate organized labor and weaken the Democrats ahead of the mid-terms?
 
Blanche Lincoln was supported by the White House but opposed by organized labor.
Blanche Lincoln was supported by the White House but opposed by organized labor.
Getty

The Obama administration may have just stumbled into a potentially costly election-year fight with organized labor, a traditional Democratic ally. Major unions, including the AFL-CIO and SEIU tried to unseat moderate Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who was endorsed by President Obama, in the Arkansas Democratic primary. After Lincoln won on Tuesday, a senior White House official called Politico to gloat. "Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise," the official said. Labor organizations were reportedly furious. The White House has made subsequent overtures toward reconciliation, but will Dems suffer for the mistake in mid-term elections? (Watch Sen. Blance Lincoln's victory speech)

The White House made a huge mistake: It's not likely the union bosses will soon forget "being dissed in public," says Jennifer Rubin in Commentary. With labor unions now likely to sit out Blanche Lincoln's fall campaign, she's stumbling into the November election wounded, with little chance of keeping her seat. And plenty of other "mushy moderates" could meet the same fate now that the Democratic coalition has been weakened.
"What those primary results mean"

Labor will regret picking this fight: The White House is right, says Andy Kroll in Mother Jones. The unions "threw serious campaign muscle" behind Blanche Lincoln's opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, and it still wasn't enough to "put him over the top." It's hard to argue with the Obama aide who pointed out that labor's money would have been better spent helping the party that defends its interests retain control of Congress.
"Lincoln's surprise win — and the tough road ahead"

The unions already got something for their money: Labor didn't waste its money, says Greg Sargent in The Washington Post. Without all the pressure, Lincoln would never have helped strengthen the financial reform bill by "backing a tough-on-derivatives proposal." And Halter almost won, so this was clearly a show of force by the left. It was the White House and Lincoln's last-minute rescuer, Bill Clinton, who ultimately undermined their efforts.
"Election night open thread"

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week