Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Statement By White House Official Shows Contempt for Electoral Process

Ben Smith of Politico says that Rahm Emanuel a senior White House official called him last night and condemned labor unions for pumping money into the Arkansas Democratic Senate primary. Incumbent Blanche Lincoln, who had the support of President Obama and former President Bill Clinton, defeated challenger Bill Halter in a run-off election. Labor unions strongly backed Halter.

Lincoln opposes several initiatives backed by labor groups, and she has sparked criticism among more liberal factions in the Democratic Party. Despite all of the melodramatic reporting of a surge of anger against incumbents, Lincoln won the election 52%-48%.

Now that Lincoln has actually won the election, at least one of her supporters in the White House has begun to gloat. According to Smith, the unnamed White House official made the following analysis of union support for Halter:
Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise. . .If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November.
This reasoning is horrific on many levels. Most importantly, it shows a great disrespect for the political process. Although I do not believe it is inherently unethical for presidents to favor political candidates, the idea that private groups waste money by supporting their preferred candidates (as opposed to White House-endorsed contenders) shows great deal of contempt for the political process.

Eddie Vale, a spokesperson for the AFL-CIO had sharp words for the White House official. Vale says that the labor union is not beholden to Democratic Party:
If that's their take on this, then they severely misread how the electorate feels and how we're running our political program. . .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. . .It exists to support working families. And that's what we said tonight, and that's what we're gong to keep saying.

Final Take
The White House quote looks like a signature Rahm Emanuel hit. Agreed?


Chris Martinez said...

Yes, Rahm, democracy is so "pointless." Better let the people already in positions of power decide everything, including elections, right?

Infidel753 said...

The White House is likely already trying to figure out how to walk this back. It's not in their interest to have the unions mad at them in an election year

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Certainly not, but the AFL-CIO said it won't support Lincoln in the general election. I guess they don't want to "waste" anymore money.

ZombieHero said...

Well they did throw money at a losing pony.

Halter had way too many negatives going to be any threat of winning a Senate seat anyway. Giving the lottery, and the union endorsements and that people forget that Arkansas is more conservative than liberal, Halter was going to go down in flames.

I know the result close, but Ark has an open primary. I voted for Lincoln in the first election (but didn't vote in the runoff) just so I can vote against her in November. I have friends who did the opposite, they voted for Halter, so that Boozman would win easily in November. So take that into account when you look at the run off numbers.

Either way, Rahm is right. He is just being a partisan. He is trying to cut his loses. He knows Lincoln seat is going Red and he wants to try and hold on to as many marginal seats as possible. I can't fault him. It's just strategic.

Of course, how democratic is the AFL-CIO when they don't let their members vote on which candidate to give money too?

I know quite a few union families that voted for Lincoln.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

ZH: I disagree. People pump money into elections all the time -- and someone, by definition, will lose. Anyone who donaed to McCain in '08 -- especially after the Lehman Bros. collapse -- flushed it down the toilet, under Rahm's thinking. But giving money is part of free expression in this setting. The unions expressed their views about Lincoln. They lost, but you have to let them determine the value of their money and speech -- not Rahm.

Aspasia said...

Exactly. This is part of actually having principals, a state which is increasingly unrecognizable by the a large swath of the voting public, frighteningly enough. When you have principals that you truly believe in, you will throw your money and time into it, even if the result isn't in your favor. Simply supporting the "popular choice" that you don't really like, which, as the saying goes isn't always the right choice, shows a distinct lack of principals...something that is obviously a guiding star of this administration despite their previous rhetoric.

Definitely a Rahm hit.

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