Thursday, February 24, 2011

Joel Award: Barack Obama

It is time to give out the Joel Award. The award goes any celebrity, pundit, blogger or politician that purposely contradicts himself or herself.

On the campaign trail in 2007, Barack Obama said he would march with union members if their collective bargaining rights were threatened.

“And understand this: 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 will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.”

During his trip to Wisconsin, Obama said he wasn't paying attention to what is going on. Obama also said all sides had to make "some adjustments to new fiscal realities."

Well I'd say that I haven't followed exactly what's happening with the Wisconsin budget. I've got some budget problems here in Washington that I've had to focus on. I would say, as a general proposition, that everybody's gotta make some adjustments to new fiscal realities. And I think if we want to avoid layoffs -- which I want to avoid, I don't want to see layoffs of hard-working federal workers.

We had to impose, for example, a freeze on pay increases for federal workers for the next two years, as part of my overall budget freeze. You know, I think those kinds of adjustments are the right thing to do.

On the other other hand, some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin -- where you're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain, generally -- seems like more of an assault on unions.

And I think it's very important for us to understand that public employees, they're our neighbors, they're our friends. These are folks who are teachers, and they're firefighters, and they're social workers, and they're police officers. You know, they make a lot of sacrifices, and make a big contribution, and I think it's important not to vilify them, or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees.

So, I think everybody's gotta make some adjustments, but I think it's also important to recognize that public employees make enormous contributions to the well being of our states and our cities.

Gov. Scott Walker isn't trying to make it harder for public unions to collectively bargain. Walker wants to eliminate collective bargaining. Obama's statement was muted compared to his 2007 campaign rally speech. Obama went into panic mode after he was attacked by Sen. Lindsey Graham.

"I think the president should be focused on what we're doing in Washington," Graham said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"When the president talks about Wisconsin I think that really is inappropriate," he said. "The governor of Wisconsin is doing what he campaigned on ... there was an election on his proposals and he won."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced that President Obama has no plans to put on his walking shoes and visit Wisconsin. Carney failed badly to spin Obama's campaign promise.

That quote, which resurfaced on Thursday morning, roughly two weeks into the ongoing saga in Wisconsin, produced a slight grin on Carney’s face. Campaigns are filled with lofty promises to valued constituent groups but rarely does a statement from the trail fit so seamlessly into a post-election crisis or legislative debate.

“I think what we have made pretty clear is that the president thinks, and we think, that, obviously a lot of states in the union are dealing with fiscal issues, big problems in their state budgets… they need to act responsibly, tighten their belts, live within their means just as we in Washington, the executive branch, congress, need to do with our federal situation,” said Carney.

Obama's triangulation strategy is to not help public sector unions and allow Republicans to put a stranglehold on a swing state. Obama needs the unions and Wisconsin in 2012. Yet, he is more worried about what Lindsey Graham has to say.

Congratulations to President Obama on winning the Joel award.

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