Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Which side are you on?

Posted by Ron Coleman on June 12, 2008

Bill Clinton still has the reflexes:

Bill Clinton on Tuesday canceled a commencement speech at the University of California, Los Angeles, because of a lingering labor dispute. . . .

(Click for a cool pink link)

“Due to the ongoing labor dispute, he regrets that he will be unable to participate in commencement this year and he wishes the UCLA graduates the best of luck,” Clinton’s office said a statement.

Being a Democrat still means, evidently, not caring about the merits of a “dispute.” Picket lines are not crossed because “labor” is presumptively on the side of the angels when it institutes an “action” against “management.”

How exactly is that “New Democrat”? True, here “management” is a publicly-funded university, which, unlike the auto industry, can be bled indefinitely for concessions. So I suppose there is, from a welfare-state point of view, no tipping point in this case: More is always available for the next contract, the public trough being bottomless.

But as a general proposition, when do Democrats, or anyone else, move past the concept that the mere declaration by union management leadership that a “labor dispute” exists establishes an irrebuttable presumption that labor is on the right side of that “dispute,” and is entitled to total deference — even to the extent of broaching a prior commitment? For we know how particular President Clinton is about his commitments.

Answer: This Old Left presumption will be challenged when union gelt and manpower, especially public employee union gelt and manpower, cease to be the single most important component of the Democratic Party coalition. In other words, not any time. Ever.


10 Responses to “Which side are you on?”

  1. zach. said


    are unions even that important anymore? The “union man” in every primary for quite some time (HRC/Edwards, Gephardt, etc.) have lost the nomination, and most union employees are hardly reliably Democratic in their voting patterns.

    not only that, but how do you know the unions AREN’T on the side of the angels in this case? Or are you simply guilty of the same sin, i.e. assuming unions are always on the side of the devil?

  2. Yes, they remain very, very important in the general election.

    I don’t know if they are on the side of the angels or not. Neither does Bill Clinton, and neither does he make the inquiry. He didn’t say they were. He said there’s a dispute, and we don’t cross picket lines. Actually, Zach, that presumption is what I wrote about — not who is or is not right in any particular dispute.

  3. zach said

    Do you know that Bill Clinton didn’t know or didn’t make an inquiry?

    I don’t know that I’d find an article titled “How Socialist Unions Rule the Democratic Party” especially trustworthy; but, okay, maybe they are still relevant.

  4. I didn’t make an inquiry. I relied on his statement that there was a “labor dispute” as the basis for his failure to meet his obligation to speak, as well as the behavior of all Democratic candidates in all times and all places to the best of my knowledge: They will not cross a picket line.

    You don’t like the title of the article I linked to, so I agree, its analysis must be wrong. I am sure I could find a better one for you if you are seriously disputing the factual basis of that one.

  5. zach said


    hahha, well, when you read sentences like this:

    “Public Enemy Number One for these socialist vanguards are Republicans who want to reduce the size and spending of government”

    I think I might pick a bone or two ;p. But no, I’m sure its facts, if not its analysis, are in order.

    I’m just saying you have no clue what knowledge Clinton has of the ins and outs of the labor dispute.

    all democrats, all times, all places? that seems like something just begging to be disproven.

  6. jaymaster said

    I’m going to side with zach here.

    Well, kinda……

    I’d wager the main reason Bill cancelled his speech there is because Hillary is toast. There is now no chance of any political advantage for Hillary & Company coming from a speech in LA.

    If Hillary were now the democratic candidate, as was probably assumed when he agreed to this engagement, such a venue would have provided a great opportunity for a widely covered stump speech in a critical state.

    But alas, things have changed.

    The labor dispute provides a convenient excuse for avoiding what is now just another inconvenient engagement.

  7. That is not siding with Zach!

    Bill turn down a chance to speak and be the center of attention? In front of all those “coeds”? For money?

    Uh uh.

  8. jaymaster said

    To clarify, I agree with zach’s contention that there is no evidence that Bill canceled this speech because of solidarity with or support of the unions. Could be true, but it looks like pure speculation to me.

    IMO, zach has a valid argument on that point. So props to zach.

    Also, IMO, my point is that Bill might have canceled the speech for reasons that are even more pathetic than pandering to unions. And I think that’s much more likely an explanation.

    I’m not expecting props from zach on MY theory….

  9. zach said


    au contraire! i think it’s a good theory! for the record, i think ron’s is a good theory, too! i’m just saying i don’t think we have enough information here to draw the sweeping conclusions ron is trying to draw.

  10. Jonathan said

    Do striking union members, who generally make above-market wages (the main point of having a union), have any clue how their complaints come across to self-employed people? I am guessing not.

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