Thursday, January 17, 2008

Love Fest Over

Fortunately, the Clinton-Obama love fest, with John Edwards making it a threesome, ended just after it began. Now let Clinton and Obama go back to bloodying each other so that, in the end, the prize goes to John Edwards, the best of the “electable” candidates. Of course, this is a very remote possibility, especially with the corporate media, NPR in tow, still doing their level best to ignore his existence. What has a far better chance is that Obama will blow Clinton out of the water. That probably won’t happen on Saturday either, but what happens in Nevada could help.

That Obama will be the one to emerge from the fray is what the opportunistic leadership of the Culinary Workers union is betting on. For months, the Culinary Workers and their parent organization, Unite Here, were tight as could be with Edwards, and vice versa. But seeing that Obama’s prospects were better, the union bosses decided to bet on him. It’s a shrewd, though disloyal and unprincipled, move because it gives them a chance to seem like king makers – not that their membership has much to gain from such a gambit. It could have been worse, of course; especially after New Hampshire (when the Culinary union made its endorsement official). It’s a big boost for Obama because there are many tens of thousands of workers who can now be mobilized to work on his behalf. Meanwhile, the National Education Association, representing teachers, while not officially backing Clinton, are in her pocket, thanks to another opportunist, Debbie Cahill, the union’s deputy executive director. For Clinton’s sake, they’re behind a rather unseemly, and improbable, lawsuit.

The issue is “at large” caucuses in casinos on the Las Vegas strip. The idea, universally accepted until the Culinary union endorsed Obama, was that these caucuses would give shift workers, many of whom are Latino, a chance to participate in the “democratic” process. Suddenly, it dawned on some Clinton supporters – operating officially outside her campaign, to be sure – that caucuses these workers could attend, given their job schedules, are “unfair.” Thus they’ve gone to court to stop what they had previously supported, arguing that it creates a “special class” of voters. Hillary has affected a “don’t blame me, I’m not the one doing it” posture. But her better half, campaigning in California, has sided aggressively with the Teachers’ union. In Oakland, he even claimed to have found a principle, “one man (sic), one vote” that the at-large caucuses violates. Thus the Clintons are on the side of voter suppression! Hillary and her handlers will try to fudge the appearance, but the facts are what they are. It’s delicious. Obama, if you’re good for anything, make the most of it! You too, Edwards. If you want to be the one left standing, you’re going to have to fight the Clintons hard – now.

To find out more about this sorry episode, go to the transcript of the segment on the topic on “Democracy Now” (January 17). Be sure not to miss the second part of the discussion -- with Chris Kutalick of Labor Notes.

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