"This is the our moment to change the course of history!" - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
Those heady words were the governor's boast to a man on the phone that he had been duped into believing was his billionaire benefactor, David Koch. Such hubris has marked those Republican governors and lawmakers who have put on fright masks to alarm the voters that their states will perish unless budget deficits are erased by summarily ending collective bargaining by public unions.
Such fairy tales, however, disguise the real reason that public unions have been targeted with unsupportable math. It's naked union-busting and I would give the GOP gang at the statehouse more credit for authenticity if they came flat out and said so. But that would blow their cover for the longer-range scenario in play. President Obama will be running for reelection in 2012 and his Republican rival will need all of the help he or she can get to fulfill his opponents' goal that has been on the clock since he was sworn in.
Now that we are past the Academy Awards rites, the attacks on mostly Democrat-friendly unions will be one of many top-billed theatrical narratives short of impeachment (but Newt Gingrich may try it anyway). Still worst-laid plans often go awry. Gov. Walker woke up this week to new polls that show him falling into minus-territory with the Badger voters for his Rambo role in this.
It's even worse in Ohio, whose wisdom-less governor and legislature will soon give us an even harsher restriction on public unions. Unlike Walker's gambit, John Kasich has no problems including police and firefighters in the repeal of collective bargaining. By all accounts, he is expected to win this one, if not with the public, at least with his Republican Sugar Daddies. (Walker says he talks to Kasich every day.) This is a high- stakes maneuver, folks. Next on the gallows: closed union shops. Talk of right-to-work is in the air.
Disclosure: Years ago I joined a newspaper staff that had the option of not joining the American Newspaper Guild. Several staffers decided to play nice to impress the boss and didn't join. However, whatever was earned in a new contract by dues-paying members also was awarded to the non-joiners. I didn't think that it was fair at the time, and nobody can tell me why it would be fair now.
I suspect the collective bargaining ploy will haunt Republicans who support it for some time. For younger Republicans with long-range political ambitions they may win the battle today but lose the war in the next chapter of their careers. That's something they might want to consider.