Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Setting the Record Straight

To those of you who have been directed to this blog by way of the Newsweek piece I'd like to clarify a few details:

I spoke with David Remnick last summer during a 30-minute phone call about a gathering at the Ayers/Dohrn home in 1995. It appears that Mr. Remnick conflated two different events, one of which I did not attend. The get-together I attended occurred long after the one where Alice Palmer introduced Obama to the movers and shakers of Hyde Park. Alice Palmer was not at the event I attended. By the time I met Barack and Michelle Obama, he'd already had a major falling out with Palmer over backing away from his assurances to her that he would step out of the race for her seat should she want to keep it.

The irony here is that while Obama and Ayers were closer than either one of them has admitted, Obama's politics then and now have always been centrist. During the presidential campaign, however, the demagoguing from Palin and the Right along with the opportunistic left-baiting by Ben Smith at Politico about the Ayers connection served only to obscure the way this event underscored what others have said about Obama's early success, namely, his ability to appear to be all things to all people.

Labor Board Appointee

From the letter's section of yesterday's NYTimes

To the Editor:

Business groups fear that the appointment of Craig Becker, a lawyer for the A.F.L.-C.I.O., to the National Labor Relations Board will promote unionism (“Deadlock Is Ending on Labor Board,” Business Day, April 1).

But that is the precise purpose of the Wagner Act of 1935. Section 1 declares that it is “the policy of the United States” to encourage “the practice and procedure of collective bargaining.” It notes that “inequality of bargaining power” aggravates “recurrent business depressions.” Both the policy and its rationale have been ignored for too long.

Judith Stein
New York, April 1, 2010

The writer is a professor of history at the Graduate Center and City College, CUNY.

ht alr