When the German Army retreated from Warsaw in World War Two, it was the beginning of the end. But the German press announcement did not mention the retreat from the city; it announced that the German Army had “successfully shortened its lines” thirty miles west of the city.This is what we get in the New York Times today: the Democratic Party has successfully shortened its lines in Wisconsin. Chirped the editors:
Five months after Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin pushed through a law stripping public unions of their bargaining rights, the Republican Party has paid a price. Two of the state senators who backed the law were thrown out of office by voters on Tuesday and replaced with Democrats. Mr. Walker’s opponents did not succeed in turning over the Senate, but it was still an impressive response to the governor’s arrogant overreach.
More, the future looks bright.
Republicans will not admit this, but the numbers showed significant strength for Democrats even in the districts they lost — strength that could grow if lawmakers continue cutting spending and taxes while reducing the negotiating rights of working families.
Wow! Look at those nice new short military lines, so much more conveniently placed than the old ones.If control of the state senate in Wisconsin had shifted to the Democrats last night, the newspapers and airwaves today would be dominated by talk about the turning of the tide, the repudiation of GOP “extremism” and the death of the Tea Party.As it is, they are dominated by — nothing. The news from Wisconsin is reported, Democratic spin is given an airing, and we move on.It’s possible to argue that this isn’t bias. “No Change in Wisconsin” is not as big a story as “Change in Wisconsin.” Journalism 101.But there is a change in Wisconsin and it has significant national implications. The labor movement, and especially the public sector labor movement, threw everything they had into reversing the Walker reforms. They have failed narrowly but serially: in the original fight over the vote, in the fight over Judge Prosser’s re-election, and in last night’s recall.They also failed on a level playing field; the amount of money from left and right wing outside groups in the election split more or less evenly, says a post on the Recall Scott Walker! website.Wisconsin was going to be the first in a series of “fight backs”. That isn’t going to happen now. Wisconsin was going to be the model of a left grass roots movement that would replace the Tea Party as the face of American populism. Not happening. It was going to be the start of the great anti-corporate, anti-Republican march that would push Obama to the left and turn the whole country blue. Again, not happening.It was a massive and strategic failure of the left — and that is news. The left has successfully shortened its lines, thirty miles to the west of Wisconsin.Through a solid generation of retreats and defeats, the left’s friends in the press keep doing it the same disservice. By hiding harsh truths when they can, and saying only the minimum when they must, center left media outlets conceal the scale of defeat from those who need to understand it most. They also short circuit what the left most needs: frank talk about what’s wrong.The environmental movement has been crippled by the failure of the media to subject its policy claims and its ideological incoherence to critical scrutiny. Labor has enjoyed something of the same free ride: while the mainstream press is rarely in the tank for labor the way it is for the greens, there are few hard-hitting, well-researched articles on the colossal generational fail of the US labor movement to manage the intellectual and political challenges of globalization. Labor’s losses are attributed to inexorable outside forces; those are a factor, but so is the mediocrity and corruption of some in the labor movement, and the ideological blinkers worn by others.Green and labor failures are among the most important facts of American life today. As long as these subjects don’t regularly receive thoughtful and objective coverage in the mainstream press, neither greens nor unions have much chance to improve.