Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Punching Your Friends.

Jed Lewinson (DKos): AR-Sen: In Pyrrhic victory, White House attacks labor

For some reason, a foolish White House aide decided to celebrate Blanche Lincoln's narrow primary victory by slamming organized labor -- and by extension the netroots and the entire progressive movement. Speaking to Politico's Ben Smith, the White House aide said: "Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toiled."

That aide is obviously a coward for hiding behind the shield of anonymity. Moreover, whoever it is doesn't have a good political sense. Anyone who thinks Blanche Lincoln has a shot at re-election is a fool. Bill Halter was the only chance at winning that seat in Arkansas, and they spent millions to defeat him.

As Sam Seder tweeted:

and when Blanche loses? MT @benpolitico Sr. WH Official: Labor just flushed 10 mil of its members $ down the toilet in a pointless exercise

And Ezra Klein too:

For a WH that prizes discipline and dislikes drama, some "Senior WH official" is sure shooting off to @marcambinder and @benpolitico

More Ezra:

@benpolitico A few more statements like that one, and bet Labor will launch some more "pointless exercises."

Not to be outdone, the response of the AFL-CIO is a keeper:

AFL to White House: 'Labor isn't an arm of the Democratic Party'

The major labor federation AFL-CIO took sharp objection tonight to a White House official's assessment that they'd "flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet" in the "pointless exercise" of supporting the failed bid of Bill Halter to unseat Senator Blanche Lincoln.

"If that's their take on this, then they severely misread how the electorate feels and how we're running our political program. When we say we're only going to support elected officials who support our issues," said AFL-CIO spokesman Eddie Vale. "When they say we should have targeted our money among some key house races among Blue Dog Democrats --that ain't happening."

"Labor isn't an arm of the Democratic Party," Vale said. "It exists to suport working families. And that's what we said tonight, and that's what we're gong to keep saying."

I'll bet some people in the White House understand what's going on here, but whoever this senior official is has no clue about what's happening outside of the beltway. Time after time, the same White House aides make boneheaded, stupid political decisions that cost the President both popularity and political strength, in the process weakening and undermining the Democratic coalition. Instead of taking potshots at their supposed allies, maybe they should spend some time listening to the voices they hate, for example Greg Sargent's take on Lincoln's narrow win.

Blanche Lincoln's victory will be widely painted as a crushing loss for the left. Labor poured a huge amount of cash into the race, and there's no quibbling with the fact that this is a disappointing defeat.

But make no mistake: Progressive activists and labor mounted a challenge that was barely months in the making, and rallying behind Bill Halter, came within a hair of unseating a longtime incumbent who had the backing of the entire Dem establishment and the two most recent Dem presidents.

No matter what you read about this, the Halter challenge was a show of force by the left. Period. If you don't belive that, ask yourself why Lincoln suddenly found herself backing a tough-on-derivatives proposal in the Senate, why Obama had to cut radio ads and robocalls to save Lincoln, and why Bill Clinton had to come into the state to instruct voters not to listen to unions in order to save Lincoln's hide.

It remains to be seen who on the left will lift a finger to help Lincoln from here on out. More on this tomorrow, but for now, it's clear that the Dem establishment threw its weight behind a candidate who polls show is less likely to win the general election -- and Dems may have just lost themselves a Senate seat.

Whoever this aide is feels like he or she is king or queen of the world. Well, you know what? You're not God. You don't own this nation. We do. This is a government of the people. Not of senior White House officials. Not of lifelong DC hacks. And we're never going to let you forget that.

kos: AR-Sen: postscript

Jed already has a good take on the race, but I'll add a few thoughts:

  • The GOP establishment tries to nominate electable candidates, and gets sabotaged by the teabaggers. We're trying to nominate electable candidates, and we get sabotaged by the Democratic Party establishment. We won in Pennsylvania, lost in Arkansas. You can't win them all. But make no mistake -- we made the politically smart move.
  • Unfortunately, the smart political move lost. So say hello to Sen. John Boozman, the next senator from the great state of Arkansas. It's the political reality. No need to sugarcoat it.
  • How much do you think the Chamber of Commerce and its corporatist allies will spend on behalf of Blanche Lincoln through the fall? Zero. Suddenly, you're going to see Lincoln quite friendless.

    Those evil "out of state" unions and progressive groups sure won't lift a finger to help her. The only question is how much the DSCC wastes on the losing effort.

  • I've long since quit being impressed by moral victories. In this case, we forced Blanche to dramatically improve the financial reform bill, and it may be too late to strip out her derivatives reform language. And we delivered the kind of pain that no other incumbent wants to suffer. So congressional Democrats have two options -- they can either shape up and be spared primary pain (I'd be happy focusing solely on Joe Lieberman in 2012), or they can be Blanched.

    It's much easier to keep your job if you don't have to fight for it twice in a single year.

Greg Sargent:
8:46 p.m.: Random question of the night: Why are Blanche Lincoln's travails constantly seen as flowing from generic anti-incumbent sentiment, rather than as the result of a challenge from the left? When Tea Party candidates threaten Republicans it's accurately described as a challenge from the right....

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