Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Emboldened Labor Targets Chao

As soon as the television writers' strike ended this week, it became a matter of time before a newly-energized labor movement would assert itself again. It didn't take long: the writers have not had a chance to pen a single script, but American Rights at Work has launched a smear campaign against Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. To spare us the suspense of their take on Chao, they entitle their campaign Shame on Elaine. No ambiguity there.

Note the timing of the smear Chao project. Although she has been Labor Secretary for seven years, and less than one year remains of the president's term of office, American Rights at Work launches the campaign now. Why wait until 2008? Because Chao's husband, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection this year. The smear Chao campaign is really aimed at defeating McConnell.

Nor is it a coincidence that the Shame on Elaine project's blog roll includes three Kentucky blogs dedicated to defeating McConnell, out of seven blogs listed.

As for whom ARW hires, only Democrats need apply; it advertises for its interns on Demwork, "jobs for Dems." That's consistent with ARW's board of directors, which includes failed presidential candidate John Edwards, NAACP President Julian Bond, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and in a nod to multiculturalism, a former U.N. Human Rights Commissioner and an Iman from the Islamic Center of America. That sounds about as non-partisan as the Democratic National Convention.

One of the stated purposes of the smear Chao project is to provide "much-needed public scrutiny" of Chao's record. If ARW really believes in the value of "public scrutiny," it should name its contributors. Sure, its status under the tax code may allow it to hide the identity of its donors. But if ARW genuinely wants trasparency, it should voluntarily identify its funding sources. Let's see how much it cost the Iman to get his seat on the Board of ARW, and who wrote the check.

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