Months and months ago, I had occasion to talk to an IA Vice President who is a hell of a lot more politically active (and engaged) than I am. I asked him what he thought the odds were of getting the union-backed card check legislation through Congress and onto President Obama's desk.
He thought the percentages were pretty good. I didn't. But I deferred to his opinion based on his political activism (he's a player in local L.A. politics). Now it looks like maybe I'm more right than I wanted to be:
The nation's labor unions, which organized so effectively last year to help elect President Obama, have been outmaneuvered so far on their top priority by their opponents in the business community.
"We were outspent, outhustled and outorganized," said one chagrined union advisor who was not authorized to speak by name ...
The Times' piece is all right as far as it goes, but it tiptoes around a central problem of today's America:
Despite a Democratic President and Democratic Congress that (supposedly) back organized labor, we live in a Corporatist state. And even though automobile companies are bankrupt and giant banks teeter on the edge of financial ruin, the big conglomerates still own the playlist and control the volume of the tunes to which we dance.
Republicans might live inside companies' large intestines, but Democrats sit on corporate laps, nuzzling close. If you don't believe this, consider that many of the Democratic sponsors of card check legislation when Bush was in the White House are now opposing the prospective law. What's changed? Only that there is now no President at the far end of Pennsylvania Avenue who will veto the bill. If Card Check clears House and Senate, it's law. This concentrates legislative minds, especially when they depend on corporate donations for a sizable part of their re-election funds.
Now. We are certainly going to get a larger Federal government (although Washington's power was growing briskly under Mr. Bush), and more liberal-leaning laws over the next few years will certainly come into existence. The political sons and daughters of Ronald Reagan have failed resoundingly, so the electorate has sent them to the political wood shed and turned to the party of Kennedy, Clinton and Johnson.
But card check legislation? That trims back some of the power of companies? Not a flipping chance.