Today’s Google Experiment – Screwing Your Supporters

The San Jose News had a story this weekend – Bush, Republicans losing support of retired veterans.

Normally Republican, many retired veterans are mad that Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress are blocking remedies to two problems with health and pension benefits. They say they feel particularly betrayed by Bush, who appealed to them in his 2000 campaign, and who vowed on the eve of his inauguration that “promises made to our veterans will be promises kept.”

This reflects a recent Army Times editorial,

In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap — and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.

For example, the White House griped that various pay-and-benefits incentives added to the 2004 defense budget by Congress are wasteful and unnecessary — including a modest proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of troops who die on active duty. This comes at a time when Americans continue to die in Iraq at a rate of about one a day.

So for today’s Google Experiment, let’s look back to 1981. The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization – PATCO – had endorsed Reagan for President. (Was it the ONLY union that did?) How did Reagan repay them?

Blood wasn’t spilled, nor was a single life lost, but August 3, 1981 still stands as one of the darkest days in modern labor history. Tired of working clock-busting shifts on “obsolete” equipment, 13,000 members of the U.S. Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) chose this day to walk off the job. President Reagan fired back, threatening to fire any workers who were still on the picket line as of August 5th. A good chunk of the controllers stood their ground, though their determination wasn’t matched by the media and public relations savvy that now seem necessary for mustering-up popular support. Having seemingly won the battle of public perception, Reagan made good on his promise: citing a law that forbade strikes by federal employees, the President canned 11,500 strikers and decertified the union. A crop of replacement controllers was rounded-up, trained and quickly installed into the vacant positions. The PATCO strike ultimately triggered a protracted retreat by labor, as Reagan’s tactics emboldened employers to take a more aggressive stance against union activity.

I’m reminded of Whoopi Goldberg’s comedy routine about Reagan thanking PATCO for their support. Can I describe that in a blog? Let’s just say it’s a sight gag that has something to do with the title of this piece. Leave a comment if you know what I’m talking about.