June 7, 2012

My post-recall question: What did Rahm Emanuel say to Tom Barrett to get him to run against Scott Walker?

Here's what things looked like on March 28th, before Barrett declared his candidacy for governor in the recall election:
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel helped raise money for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett during a luncheon at the Italian Community Center Wednesday – a strong sign that Barrett will enter a likely recall race against Gov. Scott Walker.

Tickets for Wednesday’s luncheon ranged from $400 each to $2,500 for a table. The luncheon was closed to the media, and outside, there were about 75 demonstrators.

Barrett is running for re-election as mayor. He has said he’ll announce whether he’s jumping into the governor’s race sometime between Friday and Tuesday. Earlier this month, Barrett said: “I’m seriously considering that office, but again, I love being the mayor of the city of Milwaukee, so that’s what I’m focusing on right now.”
On March 30 — 2 days later — Barrett announced his candidacy. His message at that point was that he would support collective bargaining, but he wanted to get to a compromise, bringing in all sides. "I'm going to try to heal the state. I'm going to try to restore the trust." This contrasted to what was being said by his rival for the Democratic Party nomination, Kathleen Falk — who'd announced her candidacy back in January. Falk had captured the unions' endorsement by pledging to veto any budget that did not restore public unions' collective bargaining powers.

Now, I think the polling numbers showed all along that Scott Walker was going to win the recall election, so something else was at stake that drove Emanuel to Milwaukee to propel Tom Barrett into the race. The real interests had to do with the national Democratic Party and the fall elections.

Here's something David Blaska wrote back on March 19 —  before Emanuel came to Milwaukee, but with the fundraiser planned. Blaska noted that Emanuel had unsettled the unions in Chicago:
Rahm... criticized his predecessors’ deal with the teachers union. Bill Daley and schools chancellor Arne Duncan (now U.S. Secretary of Education) gave the union “hefty” pay increases and a shorter school day in return for some union love. Says the new mayor, “I know what the teachers got and I know what the politicians got. But I don’t know what the kids got.”

Mayor Emanuel got legislation giving districts greater authority to fire teachers, reform tenure, pay for performance, and lengthen the school day and school year. He’s also a big fan of charter schools. His new school chancellor, Haitian-born Jean-Claude Brizard, worked with school reformer Joel Klein in New York City.
Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Barrett was no big friend of the unions:
The major downside to a Tom Barrett candidacy is the same as his strength: public sector labor bosses hate him. Barrett tried to take over Milwaukee public schools; despite a Democratic governor and both houses of the Legislature, they could not beat the teachers union. Barrett has also used Walker’s “tools” to balance his budget. He actually wanted greater pension and health insurance leverage vis-a-vis his police and firefighters, although those unions are specifically exempted from Act 10 reforms.

“With Emanuel set to appear in Milwaukee for Tom Barrett on March 28, it is clear that Barrett is poised to become Obama’s pick to unseat Walker,” claims The Badger Democracy blog.

In “Why would Tom Barrett run for governor ... again?” Badger Democracy says it “examined the role Rahm Emanuel played in Free Trade policies (NAFTA), union busting, and privatization from his years with Bill Clinton to Barack Obama to the Chicago Mayor’s Office. Does Tom Barrett represent the energy and power of this recall movement? How many times has Barrett marched with teachers and firefighters? How many times has Barack Obama actually stood with Labor in Wisconsin ...?”

Blaska’s Bottom Line: next time someone asks why can’t Republicans elect a moderate, turn the question around on them. Why can’t Democrats elect a moderate?
But Barrett got the Democrats' support in the primary, knocking out Kathleen Falk who would have wedded the Democratic Party's image in Wisconsin to the unions. And Barrett proceeded to avoid talking about collective bargaining, making his issue some vague blather about healing and trust. That is, he ended up with a generic non-message of the sort that has worked for Barack "Hope and Change" Obama.

So what did Rahm Emanuel say to Tom Barrett? Was he conveying the message that you are Obama's pick, and we need to do this for the sake of the party's future? And this includes losing, because we know from the polls that you are going to lose. And, after today, we are not going to help you. In fact, although you are Obama's pick, you are picked for the purpose of keeping this pro-union message off of the President. He will not appear by your side in Wisconsin. He might do fundraisers just over the border in Minneapolis, making a show of shunning you. We'll throw you a tweet of support — in less than 140 characters — on the eve of the election. This is all understood.

In that light, Barrett stoically did what he was supposed to do. He lost, and he did it in a way that allowed much of the media — which is substantially pro-Obama — to interpret the June 5th election as a crushing loss to the public sector unions but somehow nevertheless good news for Obama.

Now, let's look back to that Badger Democracy ("Progressive Truth in Journalism for Wisconsin") item that Blaska linked to (above). That was written on March 15th:
For over 14 months, this struggle has begun and continued without the support of Barack Obama and his Administration. He was not on the ground with us marching against Act 10 – in fact, many of us have pleaded  for his support since this struggle began. Now, facing an election, Obama needs Wisconsin as a critical battleground state. His obvious intention – to link his campaign with the energy and power of the Wisconsin grassroots movement with Tom Barrett as the capital “D” Democratic candidate.
The "energy and power" maybe, but not also the lefty politics.
Does Tom Barrett represent the energy and power of this recall movement? 
No, but that was the point. To capture the energy, but launder out the left-wing issues and ideology. Barrett was to be exploited by the Party as a firewall, allowing Party insiders to use the energy of the Wisconsin protests without getting burned by issues and attitudes that scare off mainstream American voters. (The Party was struggling with a similar problem with respect to the Occupy Wall Street movement.)
How many times has Barrett marched with teachers and firefighters? How many times has Barack Obama actually stood with Labor in Wisconsin or against job-killing free trade bills? When has Rahm Emanuel honored the negotiating process of collective bargaining? The political actions of these candidates speaks volumes about who they are, and what they represent.
Exactly.
If Tom Barrett were to decide to drop out of the Milwaukee Mayor’s race to run for Governor because people are overwhelming in their demanding that action, so be it. If he were to win a competitive primary, so be it. But – if Barrett intends on running as a pawn to the Obama Administration and beholden to that corporate money; and using the grassroots momentum for that political end – it will serve no good for the people at the heart of this movement or Wisconsin itself, and we all lose the potential to change the politic in Wisconsin for the benefit of the people.

Ask yourself the question – what does this movement represent, and do the actions of Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and Tom Barrett embrace those beliefs?  

Responses are welcome. Solidarity.
Here's my response: They owned you.

36 comments:

Quayle said...

Their deified savior sold them for 30 pieces of silver.

Patrick said...

Too easy: He made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Patrick said...

To be a (very) little more thoughtful about it though, this loss could have helped the Democrats free themselves of the big labor albatross. For decades, the Dems did what their union bosses wanted - they had too, it was their largest power base, and the public unions increasingly so. Now, the labor unions have shown that they are neither popular, nor powerful. The Democrats cannot rely on them to bring out the voters, and will probably have to do without their money anyway. The Dems can move to the center, especially on public labor union issues, as the unions have been proven to be a paper tiger.

Whether the Democrats take advantage of this is an entirely different question.

Michael Haz said...

What Rahm said was "You have Barack's continued support."

Tom Barrett ran for governor in 2010 because Barack Obama specifically asked him to. He hadn't planned on running until Obama asked (twisted his arm) him to do it.

It was generally believed in 2010, as it is now, that Barrett will have a position in the second Obama administration as a reward for his loyalty.

Wouldn't it be ironic if there isn't a second Obama term because of Tom Barrett's loyalty?

Curious George said...

It's pretty clear that the recallers and unions were sold out by Obama, Rahm, and Barrett. Add those two assholes Tate and Graeme Zielinski. For their own selfish wants and needs.

But the recallers shouldn't be surprised. They are no different all thieves, taking from others. Who doesn't know there is no honor among thieves.

Hagar said...

So Tom Barrett is Wisconsin's Joe Biden?

edutcher said...

Patrick stole mine, but Tippytoes probably told him (remember, this is 2 1/2 months ago), "We're looking good and we'll back you all the way. The Republicans are going to be so busy fighting among themselves all year, you'll look great in comparison. And Dr Evil will make sure you have all the money and muscle you need".

edutcher said...

PS Being freed of the big labor albatross also means losing out on all that money, which was a major source of revenue for the Demos.

Besides, most union bosses today are more like the Rathke brothers than Walter Reuther, so the differences between Chuckie Schumer and Rich Trumka are minimal.

traditionalguy said...

IMO the New Dem's basic problem was who would George Soros give his nod to.Emanuel is one of many New Dems who likes Soro's money more than he feels any loyalty to the Leader From Behind.

And what does Soros know about the day of end of the financial world of US dollars?

How about simply that Soros wants a GOP President elected to take the coming blame?

Soros says let Obama and friends do a WWF pretense of a courageous fight that they are actually in process of throwing.

gregq said...

Patrick,

If the PEUs get toasted like they should, the Democrats will spend a decade in the wilderness. From top to bottom they are owned by people who love big government. If the Democrats lose vote fraud, and the PEUs money and GOTV they're going to be dead in the water until they can develop leaders who aren't "big government, all the time." And their base will have to get tired enough of losing to be willing to vote for said leaders.

It's going to take several national loses for that to happen.

David R. Graham said...

Barrett looked to be going through motions. Ann's analysis sounds accurate to me. If it in fact is, the objects of her analysis sound too smart to me by half. The devious are always with us. Their stratagems hurt, often fatally, and always undo themselves. Lots of people believed the lies in 2008 and lots will in 2012. All know that. The force of historical movement at this time is running against deceit and delusion. It's time to put a stake in the heart of the Kennan Doctrine.

roesch/voltaire said...

Interesting insights into a use of the re-call energy while distancing itself from the union left leaves some on the short end. But my own take is that, as many have pointed out, Walker would win the recall for a variety of reasons, so the best strategy for theDemocratic party would be to start developing the grass roots organization efforts for the next election that will be ready to campaign against affects of Citizens (Big Money) United type of blitz that the Republican Party will mount, and any mistakes that Walker and Company make. Further I think more liberals will let go of their identity as professionals with weak ties to unions, and begin to point out how the decline of middle class income parallels the decline of unions giving a new twist to the issue.

deborah said...

Can someone do a recap of the Falk/Barrett primary? How did someone 'wedded' to the union get passed up?

PatCA said...

I think Rahm promised him a job in D.C., a "f***ing golden" job if he would just take his punch and wait until Obama wins in November. So Barrett will campaign for him. Win-win.

Q said...

I think more liberals will let go of their identity as professionals with weak ties to unions


Weak ties to unions? Weak ties to unions?

Good to see that lefty denial is still going strong.

glenn said...

"What did Rahm Emanuel say to Tom Barrett to get him to run against Scott Walker?"

"This is Rahm, Here's Money. Don't argue with me, run."

David said...

Not many comments.

Too much reading.

Will this be on the exam?

Rusty said...

What did Rahm Emmanual tell Tom Barret?

Like all Chicago pols there was a quid pro quo. Barret could count on Illinois democrat support as long as Barret delivered Milwaukee to Obama in November.
Now the democrats know how many voteds it's going to take to steal the Nov. election.

Dan in Philly said...

The simplest reason is likely the correct one. Your argument is possible, but farfetched.

Barrett ran because he thought there was a good chance he would win. Sure the polls showed him down, but a week is a long time in politics, and who knows what would have happened in over 2 months? He took a chance knowing that if he won he would not only be gov, but a lib and union hero, and that might have propelled him even further.

Obama distanced himself from the race lately because he knew the race would probably be a loser, but if Barrett had closed the gap and seemed likely to win, you can bet O would have been all over the state making it seem like he was leading the parade.

Everyone did what seemed likely to serve their own short term best interests, as politicians generally do and pretty much have to. You have to be opportunistic in politics and strike while the iron is hot - I've always maintained Hillary should have run in '04 - and see how things turn out.

Long and involved plans are of no use since no one can really predict what is going to be the issues defining the next election. Politicians are at the mercy of the whims of fate far more than they can admit, even to themselves.

Michael K said...

Without the public employee unions, the Democrats are a bunch of mutually exclusive single issue groups with no unity. Democrats don't see the world as the rest of us do. They think the money will come from somewhere to keep the party going. Different world view unmoored to reality. The Hollywood crowd is all about social issues like gay marriage. Marginal at best.

caseym54 said...

What he said was: "That stupid union flack will lose this thing by 30 points. Get in there and keep it respectable or we're all screwed."

Peter said...

Occam's Razor says the reason why Barrett won was simple opportunism: a short campaign, not too much work, and perhaps the governorship would just fall in his lap.

After all, what's to lose? Walker had plenty to lose, but Barrett? He's still mayor and if his hope of ever being elected to a higher office are ruined, well, his chances for that weren't very good anyway.

Tom Spaulding said...

...the Democrats are a bunch of mutually exclusive single issue groups with no unity. Democrats don't see the world as the rest of us do.

Yes, the Coalition of the Chillin'.

Dems need to find something to promise so they can keep the following happy/angry: Upper East Siders, Blacks, gays, longshoremen, gay longshoremen, Hollywood, unions, Madison, pseudo-intellectuals, bearded hippies and hipsters, food stampers, EBT frauds, etc.

Edmund Burke said...

This is nonsense, like the theory that Obama blunders in order to distract from the economy. 1) All Obama does is play to his base; 2) the pub emp unions collapse is a disaster for Obama and the Dem party; and 3) Barrett didn't win because he tamped down the union issue; he won because the reforms were working and union support dropped. While Rahm undoubtly didn't like the idea of union puppet Falk, he and Obama desperately wanted Barrett to win.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

It seems simpler to me (far from Wisconsin) to assume that Obama and the Democratic machine supported Barrett before the primary and mostly stayed mum later because they are owned by moneyed interests that always wanted the less pro-union candidate--Barrett being less pro-union than Falk but more pro-union than Walker. Oh sure, before pro-union crowds or leaders Obama might pretend he is pro-union, but he tends to pretend about a great many things.

tom beebe said...

Let;s see if the Obama administration appoints Barret to a cushy job such as Ambassador, or maybe even Czar. Wanna bet?

Peter Stevens said...

The link under

“Why would Tom Barrett run for governor ... again?”

is broken.

Daniel in Brookline said...

So you're saying that Barrett ran, knowing he almost certainly would lose, in order to help a bigger game. He was told to take one for the team, in other words.

Stipulate that. The analogy applies almost perfectly. What's President Obama's bigger game? Because if he's running to win, he's doing an awfully clumsy job of it, tripping over his own feet (or teleprompter) at every turn. (Did he really think it was a good idea to strong-arm the Catholic Church, for example?)

Personally, I don't buy it. But then I never really believed in Obama as the much-hyped 3D chess player master-strategist in the first place.

JohnnyL said...

"...and we all lose the potential to change the politic in Wisconsin for the benefit of the people."


The best line in the article. They actually believe this stuff.

john said...

This would explain the slap i Barrett's face; only the slap was meant for Obama and the party which unfortunately stayed at arms length.

wildswan said...

I don't think Obama cares about the Democratic party or anyone in it except if they can help him. He threw all the people who helped him pass Obamacare under the bus when they were in trouble in the next election. It would be better for Obama not to have a gigantic loss in Wisconsin so he sent a message by Rahm - whatever it said, Obama won't feel obliged to live up to it. Only Bill Clinton can handle Obama - sinking a knife in his back as when Clinton said Bain was OK, then helping Obama, but, no doubt, another knife at ready. The rest of us aren't in that league and so we puzzle over things, trying to make sense of them.

lewy14 said...

Ann, I believe the word you are looking for at the end of your post is "pwned".

James L. Salmon said...

What is certain is that Rahm Emanual ask told Barrett SOMETHING. Remember the story of Barry showing up in the Ward Heeler's office in Chicago without an appointment and the Ward Heeler asking Barry, "Who sent ya?", to which Barry responded, "Nobody sent me. I just here to help anyway I can," to which the Ward Heeler responded, "I don't need nothing from nobody nobody sent!" The Chicago Way always involves toadies and a messages from SOMEBODY. Nobody needs nothing from nobody nobody sent. So AA is asking the right question. Rahm Emanual is the Toadie of all Toadies and he was sent by those who control the puppy strings of the fool in the White House. Knowing what he said to Barrett that convinced Barrett to run would indeed be insightful. But Barrett will be sleeping with the fishes - or horse head / dead fish wrapped in a recent NYT newspaper - if he talks. So he won't.

LTC John said...

"Remember the story of Barry showing up in the Ward Heeler's office in Chicago without an appointment and the Ward Heeler asking Barry, "Who sent ya?", to which Barry responded, "Nobody sent me. I just here to help anyway I can," to which the Ward Heeler responded, "I don't need nothing from nobody nobody sent!"

That was actually the story of Abner Mikva, long before O! was eating dog in Indonesia or putting together the Choom Gang in HI.

Glen Wishard said...

Pigtail Girl says, "Rahm Emmanuel? But he's not even from Wisconsin!"

Rusty said...

Peter said...
Occam's Razor says the reason why Barrett won was simple opportunism: a short campaign, not too much work, and perhaps the governorship would just fall in his lap.

After all, what's to lose? Walker had plenty to lose, but Barrett? He's still mayor and if his hope of ever being elected to a higher office are ruined, well, his chances for that weren't very good anyway.



Nope.
You don't know how this works. You get something. Win or lose you owe something. Come November. Just like Chicago. Milwaukee will be stuffing ballot boxes and busing homeless and insane people all over town to vote early and often. There will be no republican votes in either town.Barret delivers and there is a place for him in the national democrat organization.
With the democrats it's never about getting out the vote. It's getting out the most votes. Any way they can.
Yeah. It's just that simple and just that sleazy.