Regrets: They'll have a few if they keep on demonstrating

Regrets: They'll have a few if they keep on demonstrating

February 27th, 2011 by Steve Barrett in Opinion Columns

As Wisconsin's teachers were helpfully illustrating why government workers shouldn't be unionized, a woman at the Capitol in Madison held this sign: "Don't make me Regret wanting to TEACH."

I promise you, lady, if you ditched your students to stand in some protest, I for one already regret that you wanted to TEACH.

But you're welcome to come along for the ride.

How do the teachers unions in Wisconsin not get that their zeal for conducting mass demonstrations over multiple school days is itself proof that they're unfit for collective-bargaining rights? When they go on strike, they are aligning themselves not against some faceless government but against their students and against the people of Wisconsin, who pay their salaries -- including the sick leave the teachers used to attend the rallies.

They seem not to grasp that in the minds of non-government workers who watch them holding signs equating Gov. Scott Walker with Hitler (that is, when protesters weren't busy Tweeting for his death), there course a number of profound thoughts:

• Don't those people have to work for a living?

• Why can't they do their demonstrating on weekends (as the tea party counter-protesters did) instead of holding education hostage?

• How much are state residents already spending per pupil, only to be lectured constantly on how cheap and pathetic they are for not surrendering more of their wages?

But hey, maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe the Big Labor Democrats have tapped a succulent artery of public sentiment. Maybe unemployed waiters, truckers and seamstresses don't resent the fact that they never had a stimulus backstop to ensure their own jobs. Maybe they find it inspiring to be told to prop up government employees' spiffy union contracts.

And maybe Justin Bieber will spontaneously produce a winsome album entirely in Aramaic while pheasant hunting in Tampa.

At any rate, by welcoming President Obama's intervention in a state labor dispute (for a gold-plated "Duh" sign, guess whose side he's on!), Democrats apparently believe voters will flock to them like horseflies to sunblock in 2012.

Their platform? Asking the 93.1 percent of private-sector workers who haven't joined a union why we selfishly object to turbocharging the wages, benefits and pensions of the 36.2 percent of mollycoddled government workers who have.

That should make for an engaging campaign at a time when Americans are using everything from hi-fi megaphone to steroid-enhanced carrier pigeon to demand spending cuts.

But who are we to season the Democrats' Kool-Aid with the bitter caffeine of reality? If they could get McGovern elected, I guess the sky's the limit.

Oh wait ...

Washington, Lincoln ... Obama?

Was anybody else less than electrified by that mealiest of all Golden Delicious holidays -- Presidents' Day -- last week? (Don't get me started on where the apostrophe goes, or whether it should even have one.)

Could anything be as insipid as having to accord Barack Obama the same appreciation as George Washington? Uh, yes: having to commemorate Herb Hoover in equal measure with Honest Abe.

Couldn't we drop this politically correct, undifferentiated, bipartisan blob of an observance altogether, seeing as how we can no longer be bothered to mark Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays individually?

And while we're at it, may we please shorten the name "Washington, D.C." to "D.C.," since these days the capital is a slap in the face to the father of our country?

Win two for the Gipper

It didn't work.

"It" being the Texas-size attempt to vaporize Ronald Reagan's legacy in the days leading up to the 100th anniversary of his birth.

I haven't consulted my abacus, but I think there were actually more Reagan-was-no-friend-to-conservatives articles and TV news segments prior to his birthday Feb. 6 than even the slew of Easter stories that cynically ponder, year after year, "Who was the real Jesus?" -- stories predicated on the unexamined assumption that Newsweek or Time is more competent than the Bible to tell us that.

Alas, the Reagan bashers seem to have created the opposite effect from the one intended. A Gallup poll in early February asked, "Who do you regard as the greatest United States president?"

Finishing first was -- cue the sousaphones, please -- Reagan! About half again as many respondents picked him as picked Bill Clinton, and four times as many selected him as selected Barack Obama.

Debate the results all you like. (Washington would have been my choice.) But for giving liberals convulsions, nothing is more effective than reminding them that America loves Reagan.

Except mustering your spookiest voice and whispering, "PAAA-liiin."

To reach Steve Barrett, call 423-757-6329 or e-mail