This time last Election the Front page was "dominated" by speculation about Union endorsements. A quick search for "SEIU" produced 30 related FP stories.
Kos, december 6th
That was then. Now, we're seeing most of the outright opposition to Dean evaporate, and this week proved the turning point. The latest NH, IA, and MA polls. The $50K for the Florida Democratic Party. The realization of what the SEIU and AFSCME endorsements meant, the realization that it would take a miracle to overtake Dean given his current advantages in support, money, and most important (and most often overlooked) -- his ground organization. Clark, the only guy left with a chance to catch Dean, trails in all three with just over a month left before the first ballots get cast. Had he entered the race a mere two or three months earlier... but that's academic. Clark entered when he entered.Note the amazingly poor predictions.
Unions make no impact on the Front Page these days. But they appear to have dominated a significant protion of the debate in 2004. Something changed. Maye the superficiality of thinking in 2004 is being carried over in a new form--too much focus in 2004. Zero focus 2008.
Rewind a month we see this report about the politicking.
Kos, November 6th
While everything suggests it's a done deal, SEIU delayed its Dean endorsement at the request of rival union AFSCME.Entire Kos Front Page Stories about the chicanery going on between competing candidates and Union leaders. Actual politics! Gore be warned. Clark tried the late entrance and paid dearly for it.
I've done some quick digging around, and the word is that yes -- Dean is on tap for the AFSCME endorsement. Getting SEIU, alone, was a coup for Dean, who assidiously courted the union the past year.
But AFSCME? The union originally leaned Kerry. Then, as Kerry's star faded, it took a good, long look at Clark, making no secret of their affection for the general even before Clark announced his candidacy. Some even suggest that AFSCME's encouragement may have had a role in getting Clark into the race.
But Clark stumbled out of the gate, and given it's still a rudderless ship (still no campaign manager), McEntee apparently decided he could help end a divisive primary season more quickly by endorsing and putting the union's might behind Dean.
Jump ahead a few days and we see more aout the combat between Gephardt and Dean.
Kos Nov 12th
The AFSCME endorsement might've delivered the whole AFL-CIO to Gep, so the loss must've been particularly bitter.Sheer competence! lol.
If nothing else, this article shows the sheer competence of Dean's campaign team. While most of us would assume every candidate would spare no effort to win these unions' endorsements, reality was far different.
Let's jump back a little further to the actual manoeuvring that occurred before the endorsments.
Kos, Oct 23rd
SEIU is supposed to meet on November 6th to assemble the results of its internal polling and decide whether to endorse at that time, or, again, delay a decision. All signs point to Dean--if the internal polling means anything--he was first coming out of the last meeting, Edwards second, Gephardt third--and support of the key local leaders means anything (Rivera in NYC, Roselli in Bay Area, Medina in LA), then Dean's the guy. Gephardt's strong support for the war really hurt him early on with these local leaders--those large local unions were running independent anti-war activities from the start. And while Gephardt is 100% pro-union, his particularly strong base on midwest trade issues doesn't make that much difference to coastally based service sector unionists. Edwards gave great speech at the last SEIU political conference, he's a pro-union guy, but nobody's thinks he got a chance to win.
What can we make of this? Things have certainly changed on DKos. I suppose given the flame out of Dean all this speculation turns out to have been a spectacular waste of time. But maybe the obsessive part of this narrative overlooked the obvious. Certain candidates were emerging as the sentimental favourites of the ture rank and file inspite of high powered BS calculations by insiders.
This following paragragh is eerie in how it presages the current SEIU debacle:
The other thing to keep in mind is the intra-union dynamics now favor an SEIU endorement of Dean--the mini-Gephardt boomlet in the media and Iowa and among a number of unions gives Andy Stern an opportunity to carve out an independent path from the herd--he respects and likes Gephardt, but has never thought he was electable, and is keenly aware that money matters--and that Gephardt, win or lose in Iowa, will be out of money in March, and will be creamed by Bush for months. If Stern picks the ultimate nominee in Dean, he will look prescient, while the other unions will look merely sentimental--he's too savvy to think that that "GOP thinks Gephardt will be toughest" article is anything other than a feint to get the Dems to waste money fighting each other, get the AFL to endorse Gephardt and cause more intra-party bloodletting, and create more opposition to who the GOP is really scared of, Clark.
Andy Stern has the political instincts of a homing pigeon with an electromagnet strapped to its wing. He's easily distracted by shiny objects and acts more like a Magpie than a classy thoroughbred fancy Pigeon. And that handicap is shared by many lauded commentators. It's amazing to see how much the Front Page obsessions have changed and become insubstantial (ignoring real detail) since 2004 and how much they have stayed the same still focusing in on the irrelevant and arcane.
There is virtually no mention of the role of union members on the front pages anymore which is unfortunate because this year they will be decisive. They were last time around--But commentators left and right confuse union leaders with the rank and file.