Once when spending a leisurely afternoon on the waterfront in Savannah, Georgia - a wonderful place, by the way, to spend a leisurely afternoon - I saw a street entertainer, a guy who rode a very tall unicycle and juggled, start his efforts to draw a crowd by yelling, "I'm going to hurt myself. Does anyone want to watch?"
I feel very much the same way about the way labor unions are determined to punish Democratic Members of Congress, even their most loyal friends, if they voted against Obama's health care reform monstrosity. The case in point is the decision of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO to withhold its endorsement of Representative Tim Holden in Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District.
I have a strong feeling that Holden will win the Democratic Primary rather handily. He is, after all, up against a little known and poorly funded opponent who the unions didn't endorse either. After that he has an altogether different election race. The 17th is a majority Republican district. Holden captured the seat and has held on to it as a "conservative" Blue Dog Democrat.
Considering poll results showing increasing public discontent with incumbents and the recent Pew Research Center survey findings that a plurality of the public opposes labor unions, a union endorsement in November will remind the public of Holden's pro union voting record and might be the political equivalent of the Ancient Mariner's albatross around his neck.
So, how smart is this? You alienate a guy who votes with you 90 percent of the time by withholding an endorsement that he doesn't need but might appreciate, but then set yourself up to need to deliver the endorsement of the same guy when it might actually hurt his chances of getting reelected.
Are the unions shouting, "I'm going to hurt myself. Does anybody care?"