Obama will stick with embattled OSHA nominee if he knows who pays the bills

Liberal discontentment with President Obama knows many forms, and will no doubt grow as he continues to, in labor-union terms, “slow wobble” the jobs on Afghanistan, gay marriage, Guantanamo, etc.

And if it weren't for the self-preservation instincts that have brought the liberal Left back together to defend Obama from conservative attacks, the president's approval with his own party would already be substantially lower.

One particular area of frustration for liberals is the president's failure to stand by his men. Green jobs czar/conspiracy theorist Van Jones and federal art publicist/propoganda enthusiast Yosi Sergent were both men of the Left who the administration kissed off once Glenn Beck, Andrew Breitbart, et al. started turning up the heat.

Now the fear among liberals is that perhaps safe schools boss/gay-rights champion Kevin Jennings will be the next to go for his pre-administration pronouncements (e.g. in the foreword for Queering Elementary Education).

These are mostly symbolic matters, playing to fears of Obama's lack of ideological mooring. But it doesn't matter who is in these mostly fake jobs anyway. One green czar or NEA publicist is pretty much like another. And since Jennings doesn't seem to have any experience with school safety, it would seem the same is true for that job, at least as far as the White House is concerned.

But now the president is facing a challenge on an issue of substance as resistance to his nominee to lead the Occupational Safety and Health Administration grows.

David Michaels, a George Washington University professor, is still awaiting confirmation in the Senate. Business groups are demanding a hearing for Michaels because the professor holds a outre view on workplace injuries — specifically on the kind of evidence of potential harm required to enact new regulations or render personal injury verdicts.

This is a big money issue for employers and a potential boon to trial lawyers. New regulations for things like carpal tunnel, repetitive stress and ergonomics could be very expensive.

Michaels, whose public health work has been a crusade against corporate America, has also gotten into some hot water for raising the issue of using workplace safety to regulate firearms.

The gun issue, combined with some of Michaels’ other work, would make confirmation hearings awkward. So as conservatives increase the pressure for a committee confirmation hearing instead of a blind vote in the Senate along with a slate of other second tier-appointments, the administration will have to decide how deep they want to take it for bringing a crusader with some baggage to OSHA. Would it be easier to find someone who shares Michaels' views but hasn't stated them so prolifically and pass them along?

If Obama backs down on Michaels he won't be disappointing liberals who care about symbolism and Van Jones' oratory but labor unions and trial lawyers who were never illusioned in the fist place.

My guess is that Obama will stick it out with Michaels. You can always get the emotional Left back on board with replacement symbolism or through the unifying power of attacks from the opposition, but labor and the trial lawyers can withhold serious organizational and financial support going into a tough election cycle.

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