Of Jonah Edelman and other braggarts

Over the weekend I saw several references online to a Youtube video of Jonah Edelman's brass discussion at the "Aspen Ideas Festival" of the legislative history of Senate Bill 7 in Illinois, which changed significant parts of teacher working conditions. In the 14-minute online version linked above, he claims substantial credit for the passage of SB7 for himself and his well-heeled allies through what he said was shrewd legislative tactics and eventually claimed was the stupidity/laziness of Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis. It was essentially a softly-spoken version of "WE PWNED THEM!"

If you had absolutely no dog in the fight, I think the dominant impression you'd get is that Jonah Edelman's a braggart and probably a jackass. To a teacher in Illinois and union activists, the impression is considerably worse. As the public nature of the video became evident, he put out an apology that Fred Klonsky and other bloggers received. I don't know if it will do much good: he'll probably be used as an object lesson for months, possibly years. 

I've been privy to closed discussions of legislative tactics and various negotiations, and I'm familiar with the genre of post-mortem bragging Edelman indulged in. When it's come from my side, I've generally winced (for material that's far from the insulting discussion of Edelman). No one should be so naive to think this stuff doesn't happen behind closed doors. No one should be so naive to think this stuff is helpful to productive negotiations. You can have long-term conflict with integrity, but you don't do so this way.

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One response to “Of Jonah Edelman and other braggarts”

  1. Catherine Lugg

    Credibility can be like tissue paper. Once you’ve torn it, it remains forever tattered. Mr. Edelman is going to be a case study in how NOT to operate for years and years. That’s probably not how he wanted to spend his political capital…..