It was one of those awkward meetings that nobody looked forward to, and it produced an outcome nobody really liked. On Tuesday, Aug. 5, the executive council of the AFL-CIO turned its attention to the vexing question of what to do with the Carpenters. The union had withdrawn from the labor federation in 2001, with its maverick president, Doug McCarron, complaining that the AFL-CIO was frittering away his members' money on projects other than helping unions organize. The rift had widened in recent years as McCarron kept showing up alongside George W. Bush, finding virtues in the president that eluded his fellow union leaders.
CHICAGO -- Loyalty, a virtue largely confined to the working class these days, was alive and well this week among the union presidents gathered for the AFL-CIO executive council meeting here. On Tuesday they not only pledged their support and funding to California Gov. Gray Davis in his effort to stave off his recall but warned other Democrats to stay out of the race. On Wednesday they scheduled a mid-October meeting at which it's a slightly better than even bet that they'll endorse Dick Gephardt for president.
LOS ANGELES -- The Republicans here are performing a ghost dance, hoping that through the magic of the pending recall election, the buffalo will again roam the plains and the GOP will regain its status as a player in California politics.
They're dreaming. While it is possible that Gray Davis could be recalled and a Republican installed in the statehouse until 2006, there are profound and irreversible reasons why the California of Richard Nixon, Howard Jarvis and Ronald Reagan has vanished, and why California has become just about the most solidly Democratic state in the nation.
Dick Gephardt deserves Howard Dean. In a sense, he created him.
If anyone has personified the failure of the Democratic establishment to provide the party with a distinct profile during the Bush presidency, it's Gephardt. As House Democratic leader, Gephardt clung to Bush's Iraq policy until it all but unraveled over the past month. Gephardt's endorsement last fall of the administration's war resolution effectively derailed a bipartisan effort in the Senate to require the White House to win more international backing.
As revolutions go, this one began with remarkably little fanfare.
Last Thursday MoveOn.org sent out an e-mail to its members -- all 1.4 million of them -- asking if they'd like to take part in an online Democratic presidential primary later this month. Candidates would answer questions that MoveOn put to them, and if one of them managed to pull a majority of the members' votes, the organization would endorse him.