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Teamster chief’s salty language at Obama event draws fire

Los Angeles Times

Led by Sarah Palin, the “tea party” movement, which is often accused of promoting incivility, on Tuesday lashed out at Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa and Democrats for using vulgar language and promoting class war.

In his introduction of President Obama in Detroit on Monday, Hoffa warmed up the pro-union crowd on Labor Day with an old-fashioned union call to arms.


For the Record, 7:31 a.m. Sept. 9: An earlier version of this online article did not include an ellipsis, indicating that additional language had been skipped, in a quote from Jimmy Hoffa. The quote now reads: “We are ready to march. ...” Also, in the same quote, the word “son” should have read “sons.”


“We’ve got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers,” Hoffa said. “And you see it everywhere, it is the tea party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They’ve got a war, they’ve got a war with us and there’s only going to be one winner. It’s going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We’re going to win that war,” Hoffa said.

“President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. ... Let’s take these sons of bitches out and give America back to America where we belong,” Hoffa said.

Hoffa’s language was immediately condemned by tea party spokespeople who called on Obama and other Democrats to denounce the union leader. They argued that Democrats and liberals always demand that the tea party respond when “some crackpot” displays “errant behavior or rhetoric” so it is only fair that Obama and others be held to the same standard over Hoffa’s comments.

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“Jimmy Hoffa’s remarks are on the heels of Vice President Biden calling us terrorists; Congresswoman Maxine Waters telling tea party activists to “go to hell,” and Congressman Andre Carson’s outrageous claim that the tea party supports lynchings.” Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Obama “seems to forget that he is the president of all of the people, not the narrow left-wing that wants to continue to bankrupt America. He should tell his supporters to stick to the issues instead of hate speech,” she said.

While conservatives were upset by what they viewed as the lack of even-handed treatment on the civility issue, Palin, the GOP’s former vice presidential candidate, went a step further, arguing that the movement was the true supporters of the working class.

In a Facebook post, the former governor of Alaska, who is a heroine of the tea party movement and who has been tantalizing the media by refusing to rule out a presidential run, sought to give a theoretical basis for her supporters.

“These union bosses are desperately trying to cast the grass-roots tea party movement as being ‘against the working man.’ How outrageously wrong this unapologetic Jim Hoffa is, for the people’s movement is the real movement for working class men and women. It’s rooted in real solidarity, and not special interests and corporate kickbacks,” Palin said.

“We stand with the little guy against the corruption and influence peddling of those who collude to grease the wheels of government power,” she said. “This collusion is at the heart of Obama’s economic vision for America. In practice it is socialism for the very rich and the very poor, but a brutal form of capitalism for the rest of us.”

michael.muskal@latimes.com


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