AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today said that the heated right-wing rhetoric aimed at President Obama reminds him of the vitriol that greeted John F. Kennedy in Dallas in November 1963.
Trumka, the nation's top union official, said that the anti-Obama views aired by conservative commentators like Glenn Beck constitutes "hate" in his mind and that he fears it could incite violence in these frustrating economic times.
"Our country's been there a couple of times before, and with one exception, we've always taken the high road," Trumka told National Journal. "You remember when John Kennedy got off the plane in Dallas, Texas, there were people on the airwaves talking about doing violence to the president. And what happened? That kind of stuff didn't help our country, and we want to make sure that the anger gets turned into action, and it becomes unifying and not dividing and that we get hope and not hate."
During an hourlong interview in his 16th Street office, Trumka predicted Democrats would retain majorities in both the House and Senate, and left the door open to a flurry of labor-focused legislative activity during a lame-duck session this fall.
The former coal miner, who left the interview to record an address to the men rescued from the Chilean mine this week, said organized labor's challenge was to harness members' discontent with the economy and pace of job creation.
"We want to make sure that that anger is pointed in the right direction and, quite frankly, that that anger doesn't turn to hate, that some people are trying to foment on the airwaves," Trumka said.
Pressed for names of those he was blaming, Trumka zeroed in on the Fox News commentator.
"Glenn Beck, every night, talking about different stuff and aiming hatred at people and trying to scapegoat people, you know, immigrants, whoever it is, African Americans, whoever it is. That kind of stuff isn't helpful to the country," Trumka said.