WASHINGTON — Every day throughout the summer of 2006, seemingly without end, things just kept getting worse for Washington Republicans. Iraq was spiraling out of control, President George W. Bush was at the depth of his unpopularity. Congressional Republicans were mired in scandal. One was even caught sending dirty instant messages to young boys.
What followed was the Democratic wave of 2006, which handed Congress to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, followed by a second wave ridden by Barack Obama into the White House. Pundits talked about the end of the Republican Party, or at best, a permanent rump status.
“I remember this point in Bush’s presidency. I kept a list of Cook and Rothenberg’s ‘toss up’ races. That list tripled in six months from January,” said one GOP operative who wondered where his place in the permanently Democratic Washington would be.
Eight years later, he’s surprised by the answer: Fighting alongside former Obama administration officials against a common enemy — labor unions. He’s referring to former top White House aides Robert Gibbs and Ben LaBolt, who have signed on to battle teachers unions in a series of lawsuits across the country, aligning themselves with Republican operatives who no longer worry the Obama whiz kids and their army of small donors will wipe them off the map.
“We are about to hold more House seats than we ever have. We will take the Senate,” said the GOP official, who asked not to be named to preserve his business options. “The future is bright for us. Shit, we may even take on the teachers unions with Obama campaign operatives-turned-lobbyists.”
Through their firm, The Incite Agency, Labolt and Gibbs are supporting former CNN anchor Campbell Brown’s fight against teacher tenure. Brown is wading into education politics through a group she calls the Partnership for Education Justice, which aims to tackle teachers’ work protections by taking the fight to court. A week ago, her group filed a lawsuit in New York state that organized local families as plaintiffs in an effort to have tenure deemed unconstitutional.
“We are in a war, not a fight,” Brown said in July at a charter schools convention in Las Vegas. “This is not partisan, we don’t care what side of the aisle they’re on. … This is simply right versus wrong.”
Gibbs’ former co-workers saw it the same way. When he signed on with Brown, he was working with the Democratic firm New Partners. His liberal colleagues reacted angrily when news of the marriage surfaced, and the American Federation of Teachers made its displeasure known.
Gibbs and LaBolt had launched The Incite Agency in June 2013. It was housed within New Partners, but had its own employees and clients, Gibbs said, describing what is a fairly common business relationship in Washington.
To read the rest of this article on HuffPo, click here.
The two-pronged war against teachers and unions has now been joined by the neoliberal wing of the Democratic party.
Teacher tenure means a commitment to our teachers and students and assures them continuity and stability. It ensures that this part of the workforce is stable and uninterrupted and that our kids can count on having well-trained, well-paid teachers with and experience and supportive work environment that promotes excellence.
This constant war on teachers has devalued the profession, caused mass unemployment in a vital sector, and done absolutely nothing to improve the quality of education. It’s done quite the opposite and our kids continue to lose out.
Robert Gibbs and his associates are earning blood money through these union-busting efforts. That blood is the teachers’ and our kids’. Democrats engaging in union-busting in this way is antithetical to everything the Democratic party stands for. Who among elected Democrats has objected to this? Anyone? Are those crickets I hear?
To read Part I of this ongoing conversation on neoliberalism, click here.