"Some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where they're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions," Obama told a Milwaukee television reporter on Thursday, taking the unusual step of inviting a local TV station into the White House for a sit-down interview. "I think everybody's got to make some adjustments, but I think it's also important to recognize that public employees make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens."Actually, that's pretty equivocal. "Seems more like"... "recognize ... enormous contributions"... blah blah blah. But that's the figurehead speaking, maintaining deniability. The important thing is that his organization is working hard on this, and Democratic Party interests are massively at stake:
The White House political operation, Organizing for America, got involved Monday, after Democratic National Committee Chairman Timothy M. Kaine, a former Virginia governor, spoke to union leaders in Madison, a party official said.Meanwhile...
The group made phone calls, distributed messages via Twitter and Facebook, and sent e-mails to state and national lists to try to build crowds for rallies Wednesday and Thursday, a party official said.
"This is not the way you begin an 'adult conversation' in America about solutions to the fiscal challenges that are destroying jobs in our country," [House Speaker John A.] Boehner said in a statement, alluding to the president's call for civility in budget talks. "Rather than shouting down those in office who speak honestly about the challenges we face, the president and his advisers should lead."It's a tough political problem for Obama, but the truth is... it's not all about Obama. It's about the long-term power of the 2 political parties and, more important, the economic health of the states.
The battle in the states underscores the deep philosophical and political divisions between Obama and Republicans over how to control spending and who should bear the costs.
By aligning himself closely with unions, Obama is siding with a core segment of the Democratic Party base - but one that has chafed in recent weeks as the president has sought to rebuild his image among centrist voters by reaching out to business leaders.