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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/10/10

Blanche Lincoln (and Chris Matthews) Is No Norma Rae

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It doesn't take much people measuring ability to see clearly that MSNBC's Hardball host believes himself to be the keenest observer of the political universe on the planet. Chris Matthews just intuitively finds and defines the heart of every event as only a true sage of the airwaves can. He is a manic Eric Sevareid when excited by his own brilliance, an inspiration that, so often, sends a tingle up his leg. His "Let Me Finish" nightly commentaries are more than cheap rip-offs of Keith Olbermann's trademark "Special Comments": They are filled with visions of Cronkite dancing to the beat of "That's the way it is" or Sinatra's "My Way".

Afterall, if Matthews thinks it, it must be the way it is--his way--lest his own words prove embarrassing and his self-image self-destruct before an audience of thousands.

Matthews concluded his June 9, 2010 broadcast with, perhaps, the most bizarre comparison of one person to another ever made:

"What gave me hope last night was that we saw voters don't like to be pushed around any more than I do. A lot of labor money went into the Arkansas Senate primary. It produced a lot of drama stand-alone, who's-side-are-you-on drama and a real hero. Women celebrated in the pro-labor film "Norma Rae;" the irony is that the heroine, the Norma Rae, last night in Little Rock was the Democratic senator who labor tried to beat. Norma Rae's name in this picture is Blanche Lincoln."

Blanche Lincoln is another Norma Rae. Think about that for a moment. Now, if you need to, go vomit.

The movie Norma Rae was based on the real heroism of Crystal Lee Sutton who was fired by employer J.P. Stevens for trying to unionize her coworkers. Before she departed that plant in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, she took a piece of cardboard and wrote UNION on it, climbed onto a work table and held forth the handmade sign as she slowly turned around. Her coworkers turned their machines off and spread their fingers into the universally recognized V for victory sign until she was dragged away by the police. She was the Lech Walesa of American textile workers. Sadly, she died September 11, 2009 from brain cancer, her last struggle for justice with the health insurance company that had been delaying her treatments.

Blanche Lincoln would have sided with the insurance company against Sutton, the dying Norma Rae. There was no public option then, and, thanks to folks like Blanche Lincoln, there is no life-saving public option now.

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Retired, Robert Arend was president of an AFSCME local from 1997-2007.
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