Union Lowdown

Obama's decision to take the side of Wisconsin's bused in crowds of union rowdies underscores something Rush Limbaugh has been saying for two years: "He has not come to unite us. He has come to divide us." Now, Stanley Kurtz weighs in:

As I show in Radical-in-Chief, Obama began his organizing career planning and participating in just this sort of intimidating protest (a fact largely hidden in Dreams from My Father). As Obama moved into politics, he switched to the good cop role and funneled foundation money to his Alinskyite pals, while using their hardball protests to support his legislative agenda. Meanwhile Obama perfected his calm, post-partisan persona. It’s all a game developed by the president’s Alinskyite (and socialist) organizing mentors.

We are destined for still more polarization. Neither side can pull back, because the financial crunch is going to have to be resolved one way or another. We either scale back government and the powerof public employee unions, or we move toward a structurally higher tax burden and a permanently enlarged welfare state. The very nature of the American system is now at stake. The emerging populist movements on both the right and left recognize this, and so cannot turn back from further confrontation.

Conservatives may win this battle, but they need to understand that the possibility of failure is real. As I’ve argued, Obama’s long-term strategy of class-based polarization and realignment can succeed. That is why he’s been willing to take tremendous short-term political risks. From Obama’s point of view, Wisconsin means that the risks have been worth it. With an activated movement of the left now ready to oppose the Tea Party, the permanent transformation of the country Obama has been after from the start is in prospect.

One thing, though. We've been hearing a lot about "draconian cuts" and "deep cuts" and "cuts that will harm women and children." But it's not like anything has actually been cut yet. Indeed, House Republicans seem to only be dipping their toes gingerly into the water, all the while talking about a "government shutdown." As if the reason they got elected was to get into process arguments with the President! Arguments they will lose by the way. You know what would be a crazy idea? How about actually cutting a big program or department and just see what happens? My guess: the sun would still rise in the East.

We went through a milder form of this back in the Gingrich Nineties. After the first flush of the 1994 "Revolution" passed, all that grand talk about closing cabinet departments and the like mysteriously vanished after the GOP received some unflattering headlines about how they hated children. Liberals even trotted out PBS puppets, just like they are doing now. And the GOP quailed.

The worst thing, though? The most apocalyptic predictions back then were made about welfare reform. Children would starve in the streets, don't you know. But after all the hysterics, welfare reform passed and...no one died. No one starved. And yet, magically no one remembers this. Instead, we are seeing the same hysterics, in many cases from the same people. We can only hope today's Tea Party infused GOP is made of more sterner stuff because the window for effective conservative governance can be pitifully small.

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