David Frum

11.29.12

From Union to Illegal Labor: I'm Running for Office, for Pete's Sake!

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Has America moved left or right over the past decades?

Here's one data point I learn from Jean Edward Smith's recent Eisenhower biography.

In 1950, Ike bought a Gettysburg farm with some of the proceeds from his World War II memoir. He proceeded to enlarge and renovate the farm house. The former D-Day commander was considering a presidential run. With his eye on his political viability, he insisted that all the work on the house be done by union labor.

Problem. There were few unionized building trades in rural Pennsylvania. Union labor had to drive to Gettysburg all the way from Baltimore - a trip that takes more than an hour now, after the building of the Interstate highways that were barely even imagined in 1950. Yet it had to be done. The alternative would have done Eisenhower real political damage when he did run for president in 1952.

Does anybody have any idea whether even Democrats like Bill and Hillary Clinton, never mind Republicans like George W. Bush, use union labor to improve their houses? Does anybody care?