If you come at the king, you best not miss.
Those words, uttered by amateur philosopher and robber of drug dealers Omar Little (of “The Wire”), perfectly describe what happened in Wisconsin this past week when organized labor came at Gov. Scott Walker and missed — big time.
Unions spent months — and millions — on an effort to recall Walker (R) after he pushed a law through the state legislature last year that heavily curtailed the collective-bargaining rights of public-sector unions.
Labor touted the recall campaign as a chance to send a message to politicians across the country that thumbing your nose at unions would be severely punished. Instead, they couldn’t even slap Walker on the wrist.
Walker wound up winning by seven points over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D), a wider — yes, wider — margin than the one by which he beat Barrett in their 2010 gubernatorial contest.
In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s stinging defeat — made all the more painful by the fact that early exit polling suggested that the race was quite close, leading labor flacks to prematurely celebrate — union officials went with the “Who, us?” strategy.
Said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Wednesday: “We didn’t decide on this recall. It was the workers in Wisconsin and the voters in Wisconsin who did.” Riiiiiight.
The problem for unions is that this isn’t the first time they made a big political promise they couldn’t deliver on. In 2010, labor set out to make an example of then-Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), whose voting record was deemed insufficiently loyal to the union agenda. Lincoln beat her labor-backed primary challenger. Then last year, unions vowed to take over the Wisconsin state Senate, a precursor, they promised, to Walker’s recall. Didn’t happen.
Organized labor, for aiming high and missing big, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at firstname.lastname@example.org.