Union chief takes on a ‘Mama Grizzly’ — Sarah Palin
The head of the largest U.S. labor federation went to Alaska, “The Last Frontier,” to address local members Thursday and take on a self-proclaimed “Mama Grizzly” — Sarah Palin.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka mocked the former Alaska governor, a 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee who is seen as a conservative power broker and potential 2012 White House hopeful.
“Sometimes — about Sarah Palin — you just have to laugh. But it’s not really funny,” Trumka said.
Citing her use of the phrase “don’t retreat – reload,” Trumka said, “She’s getting close to calling for violence.”
“Some of her fans take that stuff seriously. We’ve got legislators in America who have been living with death threats” since their votes in Congress in support of President Barack Obama’s overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system, he said.
Trumka’s remarks came at a speech in Anchorage to a gathering of the state’s chapter of his 11.5-million member AFL-CIO.
The union leader ripped into Palin on a number of fronts, including her use of the term, “union thugs.”
“That’s poisonous,” Trumka said. “That’s how bosses and politicians in decades past justified the terrorizing of workers, the murdering of organizers.”
Trumka noted that Palin has said she and fellow “Mama Grizzlies” — conservative activists — can just sense “when something’s not right.”
“I wonder if those ‘Mama Grizzlies’ can sense something’s just not right with her,” Trumka said.
Palin responded on Twitter: “Know our hardworking union friends … aren’t sheep, they’ll ask: Trumka’s motive?”
“Think Trumka’s frustrations r w/Obama, not me,” Palin wrote, citing the high unemployment and what she described as Obama’s broken promises. “So understandable Rich’s ticked.”
In his remarks to union members, Trumka reminisced about Palin.
“She used to have a job, your governor. You knew her. Or thought you did. I know I thought I did. She seemed like a decent person …. She seemed to take some OK stands for working families.
“And then things got weird. After she tied herself to (2008 Republican Presidential nominee) John McCain and they lost, she blew off Alaska. I guess she figured she’d trade up — shoot for a national stage. Alaska was too far from the FOX TV spotlight.”
Trumka predicted Palin would go down in history like former Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy, who smeared a parade of Americans with unsubstantiated charges of being communist in the 1950s, giving rise to the word “McCarthyism.”
Said Trumka, “Palinism will become an ugly word.”
Photo credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi (Palin in the stands at the 142nd Belmont Stakes, the third leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, in New York in June); Reuters/Mike Segar (Trumka speaking to a protesters at a union rally in New York in April)