Among the most preposterous claims being made on MSNBC about the fight over public sector unions in Wisconsin is that Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans are losing "Reagan Democrats" by taking on government employees.
The theory seems to have been concocted by Howard Fineman, editor at The Huffington Post, who said, back in February on Lawrence O'Donnell's "The Last Word," that the "whole idea of a Reagan Democrat" was that union families were voting for Reagan. But today, according to Fineman, they are shifting against Republicans because of Walker's tough line on government unions. "That's got to scare Republican strategists nationally," he said.
Private sector unions are as similar to public sector unions as they are to gay civil unions.
But again on "Hardball," Fineman said that while Ronald Reagan appealed to union members, their "sons and daughters" were "having second thoughts."
This could be true -- but only if the sons and daughters of construction workers and miners, clinging to their guns and religion, grew up to be public school teachers, clinging to Earth Day and Kwanzaa.
About a month later, The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne was pitching the Reagan-Democrats-Come-Home canard as his own fresh insight in his column and on "The Ed Show," where he said that the Obama White House was no longer worried about losing the Midwest because "former Reagan Democrats" are saying, "This is not our politics."
Yes, who can ever forget the way government workers idolized Ronald Reagan?
In his first year in office, Reagan gave striking air traffic controllers 48 hours to return to their jobs or they'd be fired. He hired permanent replacements and left thousands of illegally striking government workers jobless, banned from ever returning to their government jobs -- until President Clinton allowed them to be rehired.
(And they've done a terrific job since then, haven't th– HEY! WAKE UP!)
In Reagan's second year in office, not only he, but his vice president and education secretary all declined invitations to speak at the public school teacher extravaganza, the National Education Association's 120th annual convention.
In his third year in office, The Washington Post reported that "few members of government employee unions plan to vote next year for Ronald Reagan."
As Howard Fineman suggests, Republicans must have been scared of how that might play out in the 1984 election. Still somehow, Reagan managed to win the largest electoral landslide in U.S. history, despite government workers being overwhelmingly, implacably opposed to him.
Indeed, Reagan was such a smash hit with government employees that, during his presidency, the Supreme Court was required to decide whether a government employee could be fired for talking on the job about John Hinckley's assassination attempt against Reagan, saying, "I hope they get him."
Where have you gone, rock-ribbed Republican government employees?
With the nation in the fight of its life against incompetent government bureaucrats who can never be fired and think the world owes them $100,000 a year, free health care, and endless vacation, sick, personal and mental health days -- all granted to them by Democratic politicians to buy their votes -- liberals love to pretend the governor of Wisconsin is at war with West Virginia coal miners.
Again: We're not talking about unions in industries where there is something called "management" on the other side of the bargaining table. We're talking about government jobs used to buy Democratic votes with your hard-earned money.
Until five minutes ago, journalists sneered at the very blue collar workers they are now using as a cat's paw to burnish the image of government workers.
Real union members are people like Todd Palin, who have nonprogressive views on things like gay marriage, abortion, public displays of religion, illegal immigration and the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo. Most of them don't even care whether the Screen Actors Guild provides sufficient coverage for Jungian psychotherapy.
The media's true kinship is with functionaries who work for state bureaucracies, not machinists, loggers and coal miners.
But now that journalists need to generate warm feelings toward surly government bureaucrats, they are suddenly portraying the bureaucrats as the salt-of-the-earth, blue-collar types they usually revile.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin perfectly illustrates the mentality of the average liberal. Discussing a proposal to raise the retirement age of Social Security before there's no money left, Durbin said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that for people like him, who work at a desk, it's no big deal. But for "folks involved in physical and manual labor, another year or two becomes problematic."
And what profession did Sen. Durbin choose to illustrate the idea of backbreaking work? A construction worker? A woman working in a chicken processing plant? A commercial fisherman?
No. He cited postal employees. "It's tough," he said, "to say, just stick around and deliver mail for another couple years."
Even in their sleep, liberals must dream about new ways to suck up to public sector employees.