Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Blogging the AFSCME Presidential Forum"

Jonathan Singer on MyDD (excerpt):
The next candidate is Barack Obama, who appears to get the loudest response from the crowd. Obama talks about organizing 150,000 new voters in 1992 with AFSCME. Also talks about need for universal healthcare, right to unionize through cardcheck, a new energy plan and an end to the Iraq War (notes his opposition to war from the start).
Matthews first question is on how this was a bad decision, not just a badly-implemented plan. Obama lays out his case for opposing the war at the beginning. Says "we need to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in," that a phased redeployment needs to begin. "It is time for us to bring our troops home." On the next question, Obama says that the problem with this President is that he is too wedded to ideology, that the facts do not conform with his beliefs. This is as true about Iraq as it is tax cuts and the economy; increases in the stock market aren't going to lift all Americans. Matthews says that Obama sounds like Bobby Kennedy, but wonders about Obama's call to end some of those old fights. Obama says that he will fight, but we also need to win some fights, get the Independents on our side. "George W. Bush has been a good advertisement for the Democratic Party," he says. Talks about, for instance, coming together to raise fuel economy standards to 40-45 mpg, which would end need for foreign oil. But there should not be compromise on workers' rights to organize, right to education, on civil rights, on retirement rights. Matthews asks if Obama will be a Hubert Humphrey (restriction of trade) or Bill Clinton (free-trade) Democrat, and Obama says he won't want to lose like Humphrey. "I believe in trade," he says, but there need to be labor standards, environmental standards -- and standards that are enforced -- and that there needs to be a Department of Labor, not a Department of Employers. Flubs name of Employee Free Choice Act for a moment, but notes support for card check and then gets name of legislation correct.
In closing statement, Obama says he needs support of the grassroots, that he needs a movement around the country; notes large crowds, numbers of supporters. Also hits on key themes like Iraq, healthcare, etc.
Ari Berman's "Obama's Day at Labor" in The Nation paints a similar picture. Here's the text of the speech.



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