AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka went to Alaska on Thursday to deliver a speech that paints former governor Sarah Palin in unusually harsh terms. Trumka, in an advance text released by the labor federation, calls Palin a hypocrite who quit the governorship to avoid being held accountable for her record and is now playing a damaging role in the national debate.
"America works because lots of people contribute lots of ideas -- that's good -- even when some of them are just plain wrong. But people need to come to the table in good faith. That's not Sarah Palin. She'll go down in history like [Joe] McCarthy. Palinism will become an ugly word," Trumka said in remarks prepared for the Alaska AFL-CIO biennial meeting in Anchorage. "Who is this woman, anyway? What happened to her?"
Trumka said that when Palin was governor, "she seemed like a decent person, an outdoorswoman. Her husband's a steelworker. She seemed to take some OK stands for working families. And then things got weird."
After 2008 presidential nominee John McCain picked her as his running mate, Trumka said that "she blew off Alaska. I bet most of you, on a clear day, can see her hypocrisy from your house." He added, "I think Sarah Palin quit so she wouldn't have to be accountable, so she wouldn't have a record that could be scrutinized."
Now, the labor leader said, Palin is "hanging out on cable TV, almost a parody of herself." More seriously, he said, "she's getting close to calling for violence" with her exhortations of "don't retreat, reload." Trumka also said Palin used the phrase "union thugs" in Tyler, Texas.
"That's poisonous," he said. "There's history behind that rhetoric. That's how bosses and politicians in decades past justified the terrorizing of workers, the murdering of organizers. To me, it just doesn't seem OK to go where she's going. It sits wrong with me."
Trumka launched into his Palin attacks just after asking the question, "What is this crazy magnet that's pulling people to the right?"
Palin has endorsed a number of conservatives in Republican primaries, and just this week it seems she may have helped topple her homestate Sen. Lisa Murkowsk
i. The incumbent narrowly trails Palin pick Joe Miller, a Tea Party favorite, as they await a count of absentee ballots. A Miller win would bring Palin's season record
So far, no response from Palin on her Twitter or Facebook accounts. I've put in a request to her political action committee, SarahPAC
Update #1: Palin now has responded to Trumka on her Twitter feed and included the information that she once was a union member. "Know our hardworking union friends (esp from my days as an IBEW sister, Todd IBEW & USW brother) aren't sheep, they'll ask: Trumka's motive
?" she asks. Palin also says there's a bit of transference
going on: "Think Trumka's frustrations r w/Obama, not me (high unemplymnt, deals w/Obama&his subsequent broken promises)so understandable Rich's ticked."
Update #2: Palin has followed up with a Facebook post
urging "union brothers and sisters" to "join our commonsense cause." She described Trumka's speech as "the usual Beltway nonsense" with "a bit of the politics of personal destruction thrown around." She also accused Trumka of deliberately misquoting what she said in Texas. "Let me clarify things for him: I never called union members 'thugs.' You lie. I called some union leaders 'thugs.' And I refuse to apologize for that because they have acted like thugs – at least in this day and age," she wrote.