“I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union,” Mr. Emanuel said in a statement. “This was a strike of choice and is now a delay of choice that is wrong for our children. Every day our kids are kept out of school is one more day we fail in our mission: to ensure that every child in every community has an education that matches their potential.”
We all know who could settle the current public school teacher strike in Chicago. Karen Lewis tells us the delegates could settle it by this Wednesday, provided they like the latest proposal from the Mayor. Mayor Emanuel tells us the strike is illegal and the Cook County Circuit Court could order the work stoppage unclogged with a flourish of the judicial pen. The parents of 350,000 children, who sit at home and in some cases unsupervised, thought they had elected Mayor Emanuel to deal with this sort of situation. Yet one man could make one or two phone calls and turn this whole thing off like a light. Unfortunately, that chair sits empty.
Republican Presidential Candidate, Mitt Romney, wasted no time in assigning that responsibility to one of Chicago’s most successful and influential native sons. He made the following remarks regarding the strike last Monday when the CTU members took a walk on their jobs.
“Well, I think the president ought to stand up and say we that we ought to put the kids first in this country and the teacher’s union goes behind,” Romney said during a radio interview with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt. “Look I think we’ve gotta help the kids, help their parents, help the teachers, but the teacher’s union is opposed to many of the reforms in education that we know are critical to the success of our kids.”
President Obama has been quite like President Obama. Jay Carney covers his 6 O’clock below.
Obama did not make a public statement or issue a statement on the strike today, but White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters during a briefing that Obama had “not expressed any opinion or made any assessment” about the strike and that the White House believes that the entities involved in the dispute “can and should work it out.”
President Obama wants to make a decision on this about as much as he would like to choose which toe he’ll have amputated. Rahm Emanuel is his former White House Chief of Staff. The CTU is just the sort of Public Employee Union that drives the Democratic Party’s turnout apparatus on cold, nasty Tuesdays in early November. Walter Russell Mead gives us his take on why Obama vacillates like a reed in the breeze.
This strike brings into stark relief the enormity of the gap in the blue coalition. On one side of this chasm lie the consumers of government services, and on the other, the producers. Do you favor high wages, lifetime security and good pensions for state and municipal workers, including teachers? Then you stand with Chicago’s teachers. Do you favor more services at affordable prices in cities and towns across America? Then you stand with politicians like Emanuel, as well as many parents and voters.
Meanwhile, the CTU delegates have the city of Chicago in the palm of their hand. They’ve even taken to getting a wee bit sanctimonious and letting Mayor Emanuel feel the burn. CTU Delegate David Stieber deliberately nauseates the listener as he opines below.
Of the decision to continue the strike, he said, “We’re showing you an example of true democracy, and that means talking to everybody — even if that takes a little extra time.”
This patently explains the timing of all of CTU activity. At some point this issue becomes a rock in President Barack Obama’s shoe. The media can no longer sweep it under the rug. The public no longer accepts Federalism as a valid rationale for the White House to keep its distance.
At some point Barack Obama will have to pick up a phone. At some point he will have to pick a side. Like the children featured in the movie documentary “Waiting for Superman”, Chicago’s children are hostages to the ongoing Game of Thrones. The adults are busy deciding who runs a significant and powerful municipal government; the elected leaders or the over-empowered functionaries?
In the meantime, there is one guy out there who could pick up a phone and kill this entire problem. Our President could answer us point-blank who runs government. He could take a seat in that chair Mr. Eastwood pointed out to us, and make that decision with a hammer. If he doesn’t, the electorate may have to make it for him. Think of it as a homework assignment due on November 6th.