The battle between unions and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has drawn a lot of media attention lately. As is typical of contemporary mainstream media, their coverage only scratches the surface of the real story.
Progressive bloggers and independent journalists have done a far better job of cutting to the heart of the matter (see here and here). It appears that the plutocratic forces have a multi-pronged strategy: break public employee unions, deprive the Democratic party of a stalwart ally, and take over public utility assets.
However, even a substantial number of progressive and independent journalists have failed to notice a few key issues: 1) The crisis in Wisconsin and in many other states has happened because the Democratic Party allowed it to happen and 2) The absence of President Obama.
While it appears that Gov. Walker has engaged in fiscal chicanery in order to eliminate the unions and give away public assets, the larger question should be what gave Walker the leverage to do this? The Democratic Party and Barack Obama were swept into power in 2008 with dominant majorities in the House and Senate. What could have been a new, positive direction for the country quickly degenerated into a version of political Keystone Cops. Focusing on passing a Rube Goldberg health care bill and reducing the scale/composition of the fiscal stimulus under the banner of bipartisanship were costly blunders. It is exactly these mistakes that have given Walker and his masters the power to do what they are doing now.
One would think that 2 years of teabagger antics and a 2010 election shellacking would eliminate any naivete in the President. One would also think that the massive protests in Wisconsin would provide an opportunity for the President to push back against his enemies and strengthen his relationship with the middle class. Instead, we have the sound of chirping crickets.