Sunday, January 06, 2008

Liars, Cowards, Cutthroats and Weasels

I've been paying some attention to the WGA strike out of a general interest in labor issues in California, and am intrigued with the side story about why well known political consultants Chris Lehane and Mark Fabiani would go to work as "masters of disaster" for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, when they've played that role in the past for labor interests, and high profile Democrats such as the Clintons, Al Gore and Gray Davis.

In fact, Lehane is working in California for Hillary Clinton. That could be a bit awkward given her substantial support from labor organizations.

I think one obvious answer is that they're just doing what they do. They're PR guns for hire, not politicians. The problem is, they're well known as Democratic strategists, but they're also working against the interests of organized labor. That's a bitter pill to swallow if you like your political party to walk the walk of supporting Labor and the working/middle class.

Bill Bradley explores the issues in his column Hardball Beltway Consultants Could Radically Alter WGA Strike at the LA Weekly. It's an interesting story, and sheds more light on the long history behind it all, as well as potential future impacts.

...whatever happens in the writers’ battle for a slice of the pie, the entry of Fabiani and Lehane into the fray is fast becoming an awkward issue in the Democratic presidential campaigns.

All of the top Democratic presidential candidates publicly support the writers. Hillary Clinton, for whom they both worked during the late Clinton administration, has walked the picket line with the writers. Yet Lehane has been working for Clinton locally — recently fighting a plan by Republicans in Sacramento to change California’s presidential vote in the Electoral College.

With Fabiani and Lehane being paid $100,000 a month by the studios, if history is any guide, things are going to get much more negative in Los Angeles — and the strike will increasingly be linked to the approaching presidential primary.

That would be the FAST approaching presidential, and the situation has made a lot of people very unhappy.

Some bigtime Democrats are outraged. Andy Stern, powerful chief of the huge Service Employees International Union, flatly tells L.A. Weekly he is out to “blacklist” them from getting paid to oversee labor-affiliated political campaigns and ballot measures in the future. And the nation’s most influential lefty blogger, Markos Moulitsas, of the California-based Daily Kos, calls Fabiani and Lehane liars.

I don't know if any of this could splash onto Hillary or not. If she strongly objected, he wouldn't be working for one or the other of them. No matter what I think about her politically, I've got to give her credit for maintaining control over her image despite it being attacked far more than any of her political opponents. It's not something she's careless about. There must be a feeling that it either won't hurt her or it won't be an issue. We shall soon see.

On a related note, here's David Letterman on the reasonableness of the AMTPT.


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