Democrats stuck on stupid with Wal-Mart

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The headline of the New York Times article today tells the story. "Eye on election, Democrats run as Wal—Mart foe." The story contains the following indicators of the enduring enthusiasm for bashing an institution which attracts roughly 100 million cash—bearing Americans a week for a visit, eager to spend their hard—earned money.

Democratic leaders have found a new rallying cry that many of them say could prove powerful in the midterm elections and into 2008: denouncing Wal—Mart for what they say are substandard wages and health care benefits.

Six Democratic presidential contenders have appeared at rallies like the one Mr. Biden headlined, along with some Democratic candidates for Congress in some of the toughest—fought races in the country. [....]

The focus on Wal—Mart is part of a broader strategy of addressing what Democrats say is general economic anxiety and a growing sense that economic gains of recent years have not benefited the middle class or the working poor.

Their alliance with the anti—Wal—Mart campaign dovetails with their emphasis in Washington on raising the minimum wage and doing more to make health insurance affordable. It also suggests they will go into the midterm Congressional elections this fall and the 2008 presidential race striking a populist tone.

To its credit, the article notes that Hillary Clinton used to sit on the board of directors of Wal—Mart, and that she was unable to schedule an appearance at a recent anti—Wal—Mart rally.

Betsy Wright of Betsy's Page has long noted the popularity of Wal—Mart, and is equally bemused today by the enduring bash—Wal—Mart mood amojng the Democrats.

I just have never seen how the symbolism of attacking Wal—Mart is a winning strategy for Democrats. Surveys show that Americans in general disapprove of attacking the commercial giant. And even Democratic voting groups such as union households or minorities disapprove of such attacks. The ones who do approve are well—to—do liberals in the Northeast and on the west coast — just the people who were going to vote Democratic anyway.

But the groups that the Democrats need to appeal to and draw over to their side aren't intereested in such attacks. The great majority of Americans shop regularly at Wal—Mart and appreciate the low prices. Whenever they open a store, they're inundated by applicants who want those jobs that the Democratic politicians are so derisive of.

My own view is that the Dems are responding to their union constituency, which hates Wal—Mart. Many unionized grocery clerks are getting lower pay or their jobs as Wal—Mart cranks up the price competition for the old supermarket chains. And I think that other potential candidates for the presidential nomination relish embarrassing Hillary on her past ties.

But underlying all of this is the utter detachment of Democrat politicians from the lives of ordinary Americans, who have seen their standard of living improve because of the low prices Wal—Mart has forced on less efficient competitors. People who actually shop at Wal—Mart know that the 75 year old greeter who pushes a shopping cart to them isn't relying on his $10 an hour job to pay for everything he needs. They know that the youngsters restocking the shelves will move up or out. And they encounter assistant managers when they have a problem, and appreciate Wal—Mart's decision to promote—from—within, realizing that a real human being who knows something about getting things done is now receiving a management salary, health benefits, and seems (usually) to be pretty happy with the job she or he is holding.

Thomas Lifson   8 17 06

The headline of the New York Times article today tells the story. "Eye on election, Democrats run as Wal—Mart foe." The story contains the following indicators of the enduring enthusiasm for bashing an institution which attracts roughly 100 million cash—bearing Americans a week for a visit, eager to spend their hard—earned money.

Democratic leaders have found a new rallying cry that many of them say could prove powerful in the midterm elections and into 2008: denouncing Wal—Mart for what they say are substandard wages and health care benefits.

Six Democratic presidential contenders have appeared at rallies like the one Mr. Biden headlined, along with some Democratic candidates for Congress in some of the toughest—fought races in the country. [....]

The focus on Wal—Mart is part of a broader strategy of addressing what Democrats say is general economic anxiety and a growing sense that economic gains of recent years have not benefited the middle class or the working poor.

Their alliance with the anti—Wal—Mart campaign dovetails with their emphasis in Washington on raising the minimum wage and doing more to make health insurance affordable. It also suggests they will go into the midterm Congressional elections this fall and the 2008 presidential race striking a populist tone.

To its credit, the article notes that Hillary Clinton used to sit on the board of directors of Wal—Mart, and that she was unable to schedule an appearance at a recent anti—Wal—Mart rally.

Betsy Wright of Betsy's Page has long noted the popularity of Wal—Mart, and is equally bemused today by the enduring bash—Wal—Mart mood amojng the Democrats.

I just have never seen how the symbolism of attacking Wal—Mart is a winning strategy for Democrats. Surveys show that Americans in general disapprove of attacking the commercial giant. And even Democratic voting groups such as union households or minorities disapprove of such attacks. The ones who do approve are well—to—do liberals in the Northeast and on the west coast — just the people who were going to vote Democratic anyway.

But the groups that the Democrats need to appeal to and draw over to their side aren't intereested in such attacks. The great majority of Americans shop regularly at Wal—Mart and appreciate the low prices. Whenever they open a store, they're inundated by applicants who want those jobs that the Democratic politicians are so derisive of.

My own view is that the Dems are responding to their union constituency, which hates Wal—Mart. Many unionized grocery clerks are getting lower pay or their jobs as Wal—Mart cranks up the price competition for the old supermarket chains. And I think that other potential candidates for the presidential nomination relish embarrassing Hillary on her past ties.

But underlying all of this is the utter detachment of Democrat politicians from the lives of ordinary Americans, who have seen their standard of living improve because of the low prices Wal—Mart has forced on less efficient competitors. People who actually shop at Wal—Mart know that the 75 year old greeter who pushes a shopping cart to them isn't relying on his $10 an hour job to pay for everything he needs. They know that the youngsters restocking the shelves will move up or out. And they encounter assistant managers when they have a problem, and appreciate Wal—Mart's decision to promote—from—within, realizing that a real human being who knows something about getting things done is now receiving a management salary, health benefits, and seems (usually) to be pretty happy with the job she or he is holding.

Thomas Lifson   8 17 06