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Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Saletan on the Dean Endorsements

Not unexpectedly, the Saletan article on Howard Dean's receipt of the big union endorsements today is good. He makes the point that Dean looks like the nominee now and focuses on some of the potential problems for him lying ahead:

The bigger problem is that Dean's blood is bluer than his collar. The labor guys onstage know it. That's why they brought a third union, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, into this event. SEIU claims 1.6 million members. AFSCME claims 1.4 million. IUPAT claims 140,000. Numerically, that's a rounding error. But symbolically, it's important. AFSCME represents government workers, and SEIU represents service workers. Without hard hats on stage, Gephardt's buddies in the manufacturing trades could easily dismiss this event as Sissies for Dean. Hence the painters, who stand behind Dean in black T-shirts and hard hats, making clear that they're not talking about van Gogh.

Unfortunately, Dean doesn't blend in too well. He enters the hotel in business attire, then ducks into a side room to don a green AFSCME T-shirt and purple SEIU jacket. His mistake is leaving his tie on. As he takes the stage, the knot of the tie pokes out above the collar of the T-shirt, making it look as through he's wearing a preppy green sweater under his sailing jacket. McEntee, a bruiser, hoists Dean's hand and rallies the crowd with bellowing cheers. Dean grins awkwardly, like a lawyer who has wandered into the wrong bar.