New Orleans I can still remember my surprise a couple of years ago when someone from New York challenged me on the issue of whether or not Hillary Clinton had been a board member of Wal-Mart. Her connections to the Arkansas-based, world’s largest corporation and one of the world’s largest employers are not something she underlines on her resume. In fact it seems that while running for President now, she leaves it off her resume entirely. But, Wal-Mart is not something easily airbrushed out of the picture when you were the first woman on the board and soldiered on there for six years.
Hey, it was all 20 years ago. She was the 1st lady of Arkansas and a 39-year-old corporate lawyer, so why wouldn’t she jump at being on a corporate board like this. It was a big step up for her, and she was all about that. The reports not surprisingly indicate that she kept her yap shut about workers but did push ever so gently forward about women (or the lack of them) and environmental issues around construction. That was par for the course for Hillary in Arkansas. ACORN was there. We did business with the Governor and we agreed and disagreed. Hillary was a corporate lawyer and that’s what she did, so we were not going to be best buddies, and we weren’t. She has been a great Senator for us in New York though and a solid advocate for Katrina and some of our issues. Time goes on, and we go with time.
Let’s not pretend though that she does is not still connected and close to Wal-Mart. Let’s not pretend she is anything more than pragmatic at best about labor and unions. Unions are not winning that much these days and Hillary likes to run with the winners. She seems to be brokering meetings between the company and some of its critics, including the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) to tamp down the noise. Makes sense, because noise around Wal-Mart and labor is not good for her.
Another report surfaced last week that one of Hillary’s key pollsters and advisors on her campaign has been a leading anti-union crusader for years. No surprise there either, really, only surprise might be that the profile was so low and that it took so long for it to come out.
Eventually as the campaign for the White House intensifies Hillary is going to have to decide where she really stands — with us or against us. The past may be prologue, but I am willing to keep it as the past, but only at the point that Hillary really and truly declares where she is going to stand on the great issues of the day, including labor. When the music stops, the dancing has to stop, and many of us are hoping that Hillary eventually will be what she could be, rather than what she has been.