Thomas Geoghegan  

Day Two
Tuesday, Oct. 22, 1996
       Why I don’t know, but I fumed like a naïf at lunch over the GOP attack (in a TV ad) on “labor bosses.” The pitch, as I understand it? A woman pipes up: “Goodness, these labor bosses! But who will speak for me?”
       That’s right, lady.
       Who’s going to speak for you? When labor gets you up to $10.00 an hour? Or gets you a pension?
       Who’s going to say, “Stop, don’t give her health insurance. …”
       Who but the GOP?
       (Not that Democrats like labor much more.)
       Of course, labor’s not run an ad in years, so any buzz on labor would be unnerving for the GOP. Talked to T., a union staffer, the other day:
       “The money’s not in TV, it’s in the door-to-door, the brochures. You know, the idea is to be like a consumer’s guide.”
       “How so?”
       “Just give people information–how ‘X’ voted. Some unions don’t endorse anyone. Like the Teamsters. They haven’t endorsed Clinton or Dole. The Teamster stuff just says, ‘It’s Your Decision.’ The Peter Hart people, after ‘94, they came to the unions and said, ‘Look, people don’t want to be told who to vote for.’ So hey, don’t endorse. Just say, ‘This guy voted against minimum wage … what do you think?’ “
       In debates, Dole growls over and over, “This $35 million, Big Labor, maybe it came from Indonesia. …” What does our side say? Clinton, other national Dems? Do they say, “Don’t make us laugh; business, the rich, outspend labor … what, 20 to one?”
       No, Clinton et al. are speechless.
       What can they say? “Come on Mr. Dole, this is a wildly inegalitarian country. Business, the rich, they’ve bought off you and me. Do you seriously think that for $35 million anyone’s going to change the income distribution in the United States, when the other side is shoveling $200, $300 million into our pockets to leave it just the way it is?”
       Still, Dole has a point: $35 million is dangerous. Puts into play, for most voters, a new idea: “You’re being robbed.”
       Who’s said that in 20 years? And once it’s been said, for $35 million, it may take more than $400 million to get it out of people’s heads.