Tuesday, April 04, 2006

John McCain is a condescending asshole

Senator Pander tried to peddle his hokum to organized labor today, but labor wasn’t buying. As Greg Saunders encapsulates the AP story:

Sen. John McCain threatened on Tuesday to cut short a speech to union leaders who booed his immigration views and later challenged his statements on organized labor and the Iraq war.

“If you like, I will leave,” McCain told the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, pivoting briefly from the lectern. He returned to the microphone after the crowd quieted.
. . .

Later, the senator outlined his position on the Senate immigration debate, saying tougher border enforcement must be accompanied by guest-worker provisions that give illegal immigrants a legal path toward citizenship.

Murmurs from the crowd turned to booing. “Pay a decent wage!” one audience member shouted.

“I’ve heard that statement before,” McCain said before threatening to leave.
. . .

But he took more questions, including a pointed one on his immigration plan.

McCain responded by saying immigrants were taking jobs nobody else wanted. He offered anybody in the crowd $50 an hour to pick lettuce in Arizona.

Shouts of protest rose from the crowd, with some accepting McCain’s job offer.

“I’ll take it!” one man shouted.

McCain insisted none of them would do such menial labor for a complete season. “You can’t do it, my friends.”

Some in the crowd said they didn’t appreciate McCain questioning their work ethic.

“I was impressed with his comedy routine and ability to tap dance without music. But I was impressed with nothing else about him,” said John Wasniewski of Milwaukee. “He’s supposed to be Mr. Straight Talk?”

I, like Saunders, have been astounded by how Republicans have embraced the “jobs Americans won’t do” line this time around, but McCain kicks it up a notch by actually putting a dollar figure to the claim. And how out of touch is Senator Just-One-of-the-Guys anyway? For fifty bucks an hour you couldn’t grow enough lettuce to handle the hordes of eager pickers. . . hell, I bet we could say that at fifteen bucks and hour.

(FYI: I got curious, so I did a little googling, and, as best I can figure, at the time of the last government survey in 1998, farm workers earned about $6.18/hour—that’s less than half the average wage for private, non-farm work. If anyone has more recent numbers, or numbers specifically for hand-harvesting lettuce, please let me know.)

photograph by Robert Gumpert


Post a Comment

<< Home