Asked once what he wanted for trade unionists, Samuel Gompers, the founder and first president of the American Labor Federation, is said to have replied: “More.”
His terse answer serves as a one-word Rorschach test for sorting out the conflicting perspectives about unions held by the political forces now arrayed in California’s campaign for governor.
For billionaire Republican nominee Meg Whitman and her corporate allies in the California Chamber of Commerce, it is the insatiable greed for taxpayer dollars by public employee unions that is the fundamental cause of most of the dysfunction and financial distress that afflicts California and its government.
For the members and leaders of those unions, however, Gompers’ pronouncement is simply a guideline for social justice and equality, an effective way to ensure that working people get a fair share of wealth in a world where, as Gompers put it, “the man who has his millions will want everything he can lay his hands on and then raise his voice against the poor devil who wants ten cents more a day.”
And for Democratic candidate Jerry Brown, “more” no doubt describes his hope of what will be forthcoming for him from labor in the final two months of the campaign. As wunderkind Calbuzzer cartoonist Tom Meyer observes today, the union salad bowl (and its $10 million in lettuce) that sustained Brown’s candidacy through the summer, as Whitman bashed him with $24 million of TV ads is unfortunately empty, at least for now.
As Brown prepares to launch his campaign (finally!) with a tour of big Labor Day events around the state, however, he’s no doubt mindful that eMeg has many mega-bucks more to drop on his head before Nov. 2. So he must fervently wish there’ll be lots more green union salad coming his way before long.
This week’s Calbuzz Little Pulitzers:
The Francis Pharcellus Church Award for Editorial Writing to the Fresno Bee for its sharp-eyed attack on Senator Dianne Feinstein’s below-the-radar effort to stop Calbuzz redefine the First Amendment.
The Grantland Rice Award for Profound Sports Writing to law student Josh Fisher, whose Dodger Divorce blog is by far the most comprehensive, timely and intelligent reporting and commentary on the big league divorce trial of Frank and Jamie McCourt, the shameless social climbing owners of the Dodgers who have spent far more money on lawyers than on players, the outcome of which will determine the future of the franchise. Giants fans say: Go Frank!
The Walter Lippmann Award for Elite Opinion Mongering to the Washpost’s E.J. Dionne for his latest analysis of how Obama screwed the pooch through his disdain for politicking.
The Truman Capote Award for Fiction/Nonfiction – What’s the Big Difference? — Reporting to Michael Joseph Gross for his Sarah Palin profile in Vanity Fair, which triggered a frightful journalistic row about accuracy and sourcing and led herself to accuse him of being “limp” and “impotent,” which next resulted in Palin being accused of being a gay-baiting homophobe.
The Nellie Bly Award for Investigative Blogging to Torey “Don’t Call Me Dutch” Van Oot for reporting out the efforts of legislative Democrats to throw big bucks behind their cynical and sneaky effort to take back control of reapportionment from the citizen’s commission approved by voters just two years ago.
The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.