Gov. Scott Walker walked his talk. He faced down a militant, union-led effort to drive him from office, never losing courage or the conviction his policies were in the state’s best interests.
It took steely determination not to buckle in the face of militant unions who “occupied” the stately Wisconsin capitol in Madison when Walker’s reforms were first voted on. For two years, leftists have been howling. One of their speakers at a get out the (union) vote rally actually compared Scott Walker’s reforms to the 9/11 attacks on our country. And this is the crowd that is forever lecturing us on civility.
Gov. Walker’s stand-up courage contrasts with President Obama’s missing-in-action stance during the Wisconsin recall effort. Badger State labor unionists have been hard pressed to explain to themselves or to their supporters why the president they helped put in office has abandoned them in their hour of need.
They ruefully recall how then Candidate Obama gave a ringing endorsement to public sector employees’ collective bargaining agreements. He went even further. In 2007, he told a South Carolina crowd, “[I]f American workers are being denied their right to organize when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.”
Yet when reporters asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney when the President would visit Wisconsin, the spokesman blandly replied Mr. Obama had “no current plans” to enter the fray. What made him hesitate?
This is an incomprehensible blunder. Mr. Obama actually flew over the state twice during the hotly contested recall. Supporters might have looked up to see Air Force One passing serenely overhead. Doubtless the President was on board as he “tweeted” his pallid support for the embattled Democrat, Tom Barrett. We can bet the president was wearing his comfortable pair of shoes as he hit that “send” button.
Compare President Obama with President Reagan. In the summer of 1981, Reagan was still recovering from a bullet in his chest. He nearly died from an assassination attempt.
The union leaders of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers (PATCO) decided to test Mr. Reagan’s resolve. They signaled they would lead their workers out on strike if their wage and benefit demands were not met by the federal government.
Ronald Reagan had been elected and re-elected president of the Screen Actors Guild. He proudly told labor audiences he was the only union president ever to run for President of the United States. He won 24% of Democrats’ votes, many of them labor union members.
But President Reagan also believed that federal law must be upheld. Federal law forbade government workers going on strike. This was especially urgent in the case of air traffic controllers. Such a strike could cripple the already stricken U.S. economy.
Reagan warned the PATCO strikers to return to their jobs or face dismissal. They called his bluff. He wasn’t bluffing. He fired them all.
The world took note. In the Kremlin, the KGB reported “with Reagan, words are deeds.”
The world is taking note of President Obama now, too. With Obama, words are, well, words.
Gov. Scott Walker walked the path Ronald Reagan blazed. Barack Obama’s promise to walk the picket lines with union strikers rings hollow this morning–like so many of his other campaign promises.