Andy Stern, head of the SEIU, is "retiring" from the union. The news has a lot of people scratching their heads. The man is arguably at the top of his game, so why is he throwing in the towel?
There are a few ideas about why he's quitting, from wanting to concentrate on Obama's deficit reduction commission to preparing himself to be a Supreme Court nominee. That last one seems a bit far-fetched, though, because there would be strong opposition to his appointment by Senate republicans (and a majority of Americans, not that that really matters). The fact that he is neither a lawyer nor judge certainly should put him out of the running, even if his radicalism and conservative opposition doesn't.
No doubt he will be spending a lot of time on the deficit reduction panel, but it's also quite likely that all of his newfound free time will be spent advising a certain resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Why stop now? After all, there is still amnesty to force through. Think of all of those new Americans to put on the labor rolls! No doubt he wants to be able to work closely with his old buddy Barry O. for another heapin' helping of "social justice". Even our braindead neoPravda media couldn't miss the glaring conflict of interest if the sitting CEO of SEIU were instrumental in legislation for increasing the workforce by millions. Now he has the shiny patina of virtue in no longer being affiliated with the labor union. It's a wafer-thin patina, but that seems to be enough for this administration. It just needs the barest appearance of credibility or virtue.
There was a time, once, when the barest whiff of a scandal ruined someone for public life. Now all that is required to pursue public life is the barest whiff of respectability. Have we really become so ADD as a society that we can only give those who would rule us the quickest, most cursory once-over before moving on to the next big iWhatever/celebutant/scandal of the nanosecond? How horribly sad.
There is talk that there might be a scandal brewing at the root of Stern's resignation, but the talk is vague and non-committal. All of these instances of wild conjecture do is distract from reality.
One reality could be dissent in the ranks. Stern and SEIU have experienced some internal revolts over the past few years. In 2005 Stern and the SEIU joined the Teamsters and other unions in breaking away from the AFL-CIO, creating the Change to Win coalition. They in turn have been battling a breakaway union that has been luring thousands of unionized health care workers away from SEIU. There are also allegations of corruption by a handpicked protegee and excessive grasping for power and strong-arm tactics on opposing unions and bosses.
The other reality is that his move out of SEIU should be cause for concern, no matter what the root cause. It is far better to have people like him out in the open. When a manipulative man with power and an agenda goes under the radar, it's time to get nervous. Very nervous. This man has a huge amount of power and influence, and he has an agenda that he has been dreaming of implementing since his college days in the 1960's - a vision shared by the current commander-in-chief. He's not going anywhere, except underground.
Much like Van Jones, Andy Stern bears watching. Looking elsewhere while he positions himself behind the scenes and enabling him to fly under the radar would be a huge mistake.