It’s a classic movie plot. Think “Woman of the Year,” with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. At first the man and the woman hate each other, then they fall into each other’s arms? Well, feature the fight that has erupted between the president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, and Governor Palin of Alaska. The leader of Big Labor went to Anchorage to give a speech and attacked Mrs. Palin, accusing her of doing everything from writing notes on her hands to coming out with conspiracy theories about President Obama and his “death panels” to getting close to calling for violence. “Sometimes — about Sarah Palin — you’ve just got to laugh,” Mr. Trumka said. “ . . . But it’s not really funny.”

Mrs. Palin turned around and gave as good as she got, or better, in one of her patented Facebook postings, an astonishing demarche headlined “Union Brothers and Sisters, Join Our Commonsense Cause!” She wrote as a one-time card-carrying sister of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and United Steelworkers, cards she held by virtue of her husband’s membership in the two unions. She asserted that it was “kind of ironic that a union boss has the gall to accuse anyone of threatening violence,” particularly in light of what she called the “violent attempts” by the Service Employees “to intimidate those who wanted to make their voices heard in last year’s town halls.” She argued the real jobs problem was being caused by the policies of President Obama.

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In newspaper terms, the reason this story is getting so much attention is that it’s a man bites dog story. It’s just not often that someone with a union card takes on the head of Big Labor, challenging head-on the idea that liberal economic policies are good for the working man. Nor was the Battle of Anchorage a chance encounter. Mrs. Palin signaled her intention to mark the union point the very moment she burst onto the national stage; these columns have written about it before, in “Palin’s Fraternal Greetings.” The last Republican to reach out to union workers in such a premeditated way was Ronald Reagan. And for those genderists who will say that hard-hats won’t respond to a woman, let them look at the clips of Prime Minister Thatcher being hailed by the shipyard workers of the labor union Solidarity at Gdansk.

History will record that Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party and Richard Trumka’s American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations were on the same side in that fight. It was Thatcher, Reagan, John Paul II and — very much not least — Lane Kirkland who understood that the interests of labor were with freedom. This is the principle that Mrs. Palin has picked up in the coming political clash in America, and Mr. Trumka can laugh at her, but eventually he’s going to be confronted with this history. It may be unlikely that the Trumka-Palin feud will have what they call a Hollywood ending, but it wouldn’t be surprising to seek America’s union members discover which strategic course — Mrs. Palin’s or Mr. Obama’s — offers more growth and jobs.

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  1. [...] Jews for Sarah’s outreach has expanded to include an excellent website,  op-eds such as this one at the New York Sun, a Shabbaton at Governor Palin’s Hershey PA event, and a new radio show.  [...]