Shortly after Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) emerged victorious, an anonymous White House aide began spreading word that the President Obama's political team thought that the money unions had spent on Halter's candidacy was a massive waste and damaging to the party.
"Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise," the unnamed official said to Politico's Ben Smith. "If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November."
Another senior Democrat (who also would not be quoted by name) echoed the point in an exchange with the Huffington Post. "Labor is humiliated," the source said. "$10 million flushed down the toilet at a time when Democrats across the country are fighting for their lives, they look like absolute idiots."
It was a remarkably blunt dumping on the unions. And, in the process, it provided one of the most telling revelations as to how frayed the relationship between Obama and the modern labor movement truly is. Up until now the two parties have generally aired their disagreements over policy and politics in private, with scant public acknowledgment that friction was building below the surface.
But it clearly is there, in part because of legislative disappointments, but mainly because of labor's decision to go after moderate and conservative Democrats.