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Chicago’s Blue Civil War Escalates; Obama Still a No-Show

The polls still look good, but the news for the Obama campaign keeps getting worse. Despite appearing to be close to a resolution only a few days ago, the Chicago teacher strike escalated yesterday and is now pushing into its second week.

Though a compromise deal appeared imminent over the weekend, Karen Lewis, the union president, said the membership needed more time to consider the deal, especially the provisions dealing with teacher evaluations and school principals’ power to choose which teachers they hire:

Chicago union President Karen Lewis said some 800 union delegates met on Sunday and decided to consult with rank-and-file members before voting whether to end the walkout.

“There’s no trust (of the school district and mayor),” Lewis said. “So you have a population of people who are frightened of never being able to work for no fault of their own.”

The confrontation has even taken on something of a nastier tone, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel calling the strike “illegal” and asking the courts to break it up:

“I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union,” Emanuel said, adding that the union walked out over issues that are not subject to a strike under Illinois state law.

President Obama’s team, meanwhile, has remained studiously silent on this battle in the blue civil war, which pits his old chief of staff, as the champion of more efficient government services at affordable prices, against the Chicago teacher union, the champion of high pay, benefits, and job security for the producers of those government services.

The longer this fight drags on, the less Obama’s silence works in his favor. Voting “present” ultimately doesn’t please anyone.

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