Wisconsin’s lessons in irony

With the conflict continuing in Wisconsin, President Obama again expressed his support for the chief financiers of the Democratic Party in a speech to the National Governors Association: “I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon.” (He also added this: “”If all the pain [of addressing budget deficits] is borne by only one group — whether it’s workers, or seniors, or the poor — while the wealthiest among us get to keep or get more tax breaks, we’re not doing the right thing. I think that’s something that Democrats and Republicans should be able to agree on.”)
Can Obama make an argument without false premises, without false conclusions,or without begging the question? You have to wonder. Coming from the most fiscally irresponsible president in American history, Obama’s criticism of Governor Walker is, shall we say, ironic. It doesn’t do the states any good to denigrate or vilify governors who are acting responsibly to balance their budgets!
Governor Walker understands the uses of irony. Yesterday his office responded to Obama’s comments:

I’m sure the President knows that most federal employees do not have collective bargaining for wages and benefits while our plan allows it for base pay. And I’m sure the President knows that the average federal worker pays twice as much for health insurance as what we are asking for in Wisconsin. At least I would hope he knows these facts.
Furthermore, I’m sure the President knows that we have repeatedly praised the more than 300,000 government workers who come to work every day in Wisconsin.
I’m sure that President Obama simply misunderstands the issues in Wisconsin, and isn’t acting like the union bosses in saying one thing and doing another.

Governor Walker’s statement that he’s sure President Obama simply misunderstands the issues in Wisconsin and isn’t acting like the (his) union bosses in saying one thing and doing another is a good example of irony. He means the opposite of what he says.
But the ironies here are multiple. The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel devoted a good column to the larger irony expressed in Walker’s statement:

Fact: President Obama is the boss of a civil work force that numbers up to two million (excluding postal workers and uniformed military). Fact: Those federal workers cannot bargain for wages or benefits. Fact: Washington, D.C. is, in the purest sense, a “right to work zone.” Federal employees are not compelled to join a union, nor to pay union dues. Fact: Neither Mr. Obama, nor the prior Democratic majority, ever acted to give their union chums a better federal deal.

Byron York makes it clear that Obama administration Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis left the irony at home in a speech to the winter meeting of the Democratic National Committee over the weekend in Washington. “The fight is on!” Solis told a cheering crowd. Giving her support to “our brothers and sisters in public employee unions,” Solis pledged aid to unionized workers who are “under assault” in Wisconsin and elsewhere. I thought we owed it to Christina Taylor-Green to be better than this, but we have clearly moved on.

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