The Blog

Labor Crosses Over

A conversation between John Sweeney and George Meany.

12:00 AM, May 8, 2003 • By HUGH HEWITT
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Our political drama begins in the conference room of the AFL-CIO headquarters on 16th Street in Washington, D.C. President John Sweeney, in his eighth year of leading the 65-member union organization, is slumped in a chair, staring at the huge portrait of the AFL-CIO's first president, George Meany. Meany led the AFL-CIO from 1955 until his retirement in 1979. In 1972, the AFL-CIO refused to endorse George McGovern, and while playing a round of golf with Richard Nixon, Meany assured the president that the president would carry the Meany household.

Sweeney is talking to the portrait.

George, did you watch that circus on Saturday night? Could you get through it? Trumka almost had a cow. He says to me, "Sweeney, we are going to get murdered. Just killed."

I said nothing. What could I say, George? Howard Dean, for crying sakes. I've got locals with more voters than he ever polled in Vermont. He's getting all the professors' money, the Post says. Just great. What a twerp. Can you believe he said the country needs to prepare for the day when it's no longer top dog? Can you imagine telling the UAW to prepare for the day that Michigan is a right-to-work state? Where do we get these people?

And Kerry? They are calling him John Grimjaw, and that's the best thing they are calling him. Like our guys want a wealthy scold. Lot of veterans in the halls, George, just like the old days. They remember the medals stunt. It doesn't fly with them, no matter how many bullets he dodged.

George, you had McGovern, but I've got a carnival. They actually let Kucinich on the stage, and Sharpton, and Carol Moseley Braun, too. This is the Democratic party and it can't say no to losers like this? Sure, we gotta let Graham on stage, he's a senator. But these three? Dragging us into the ditch George, and we are too weak to say no way.

Graham and Edwards, there's another problem. We are going to get whacked in the Senate. Daschle's in trouble. So's Reid and Murray and Hollings. Boxer thinks she walks on water, but she hasn't been on an undercard with this guy in the White House in the main event, and she's thick as a box of bricks to boot. Even Schumer could be iffy. Remember '80, George. Lane didn't see it coming, and those senators started dropping like fly balls in the gap.

So what do Graham and Edwards do? Leave us two more holes to fill in the Senate. And for what? So they can bore a national audience to death. All that buzz about Edwards, and he's still in the gate, talking about his parents. Just another big wallet lawyer, all talk. Graham wants to be veep, sure, but really. Like Florida's gonna vote for its past instead of its future.

Lieberman, God love him, tried to talk sense to them. But half of them were against the war. How's Lieberman going to spin that? And you and I both know he hasn't got a prayer anywhere in the primaries. A great v.p. pick--what a description for the history books.

Yeah, I know, we have Dick. What a Speaker he'd have made. He gets real labor. Sure the teachers and the government types swoon over Dean and Kerry, but Dick will get the workers. But then what? He's our Dole. We won't get wiped out, especially if we get him to put Richardson in the number 2 slot. But we'll lose another 10 seats in the House and at least four in the Senate. George, did you ever think we could go this low? Congress may end up installing a phone block on calls from our numbers.

This is bad George, worse than '72. Bush is like his old man--tough. Pilots, both of them. You had to love that carrier landing, and the fools at the DNC sent out talking points calling it staged. Did you ever have a nitwit like McAuliffe bugging you? McAuliffe called his shot on Jeb, and he thinks people still listen to him.

We are in big trouble here. It isn't '92. Forty-one thought the country owed him one, end of the Cold War, freeing half a continent and all that. But the kid won't make that mistake.

Is this what '72 was like George? The Dems getting everything wrong, not even listening to the base? I am looking at six long years here, George, and probably more. The guys love this president. He talks like them and then McAuliffe's gang jumps on him for talking that way. They go to church, and he goes to church. I asked Trumka: "Does the DNC ever even bother to visit Youngstown or Pittsburgh?" He said he'd check. I bet him $10 that McAuliffe couldn't find Lordstown on a map. He and his pets are too busy beating up on Bennett, and our guys like Bennett!