By MARC McDONALD
Perhaps it was inevitable, but Sarah Palin has finally waded into the Wisconsin union controversy. But her comments have only revealed her ignorance and hypocrisy on the union debate.
As she has constantly pointed out, Palin's family has long had union connections. Her husband, Todd, was a long-time United Steelworkers union member, enjoying a nice salary and generous union benefits. (For example, Todd Palin earned $102,716 in 2006, working for BP, as a union member).
Clearly, the Palin family has long enjoyed the benefits of union membership. But instead of doing anything to help unions in return, all Palin has done is try to exploit her family's union ties in an effort to boost her political standing with union members.
In short, Palin has cynically used organized labor as nothing more than a prop (just as George W. Bush often used the military as a prop, in publicity photos, to further his own career).
On Friday, Palin waded into the Wisconsin union debate, with a typically ignorant and ill-informed Facebook post. In her post, Palin managed to simultaneously try to polish her labor credentials, even as she blasted the Wisconsin public employee union and urged its members to break away from their leadership.
In other words, while sucking up to the union members (even repeatedly addressing them as "brothers and sisters") Palin secretly pulled out a knife and stuck it in the back of the union workers. She must think these people are really stupid.
Union members must "sacrifice and carry our share of the burden," Palin wrote.
Palin is nothing is not predictable in her comments. And she's also dishonest. Her buddies like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity would never address union members as "brothers and sisters." At least Limbaugh and Hannity are being honest in their open contempt for organized labor.
Palin tries to have it both ways. Her husband enjoyed a nice, well-paid union job. She then uses this fact to try to bolster her cred with union members. And then, at the same time, she embraces the extreme far-right policies of today's GOP: a party that has a pathological hatred of unions and seeks to abolish them completely.
In 2008, United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard got so sick of Palin's hypocrisy on unions that he blasted her "worker-savaging positions" in a statement and called upon her to stop using her husband's union membership as a "prop."
Indeed, Palin's 2008 running mate, John McCain, has had a long history of extreme hostility toward unions. In 2007, he voted against the Employee Free Choice Act, for example. In 1994, he also voted against a bill protecting discrimination against workers who go on strike.
But for all her professed love of her union "brothers and sisters," Palin apparently believes they're so stupid that they'd support a fire-breathing, far-right extremist like her.
And it's easy for Palin to ask that the Wisconsin union members accept "sacrifices" and tighten their belts. After all, this is a woman who has made an enormous fortune since she quit as Alaska's governor. In a mere 9 months after she quit, Palin raked in an incredible $12 million.
Yet she insists that the Wisconsin union members need to "sacrifice."