Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
It was bad enough that Obama or Joe Biden never showed up during the historic protests in February and March of last year. But it is unforgivable that they've failed to show up during the last weeks of this crucial recall campaign.
It's not that they were too busy.
On Friday, Obama was just a half-hour away, giving a speech and then attending a fundraiser in Minneapolis. But he acts like he doesn't know where Wisconsin even is, or why it matters.
It matters because this is about a basic human right: the right to collectively bargain.
It matters because Walker has systematically attacked the progressive agenda down the line: from public education and the environment to the social safety net and women's rights.
It matters because Walker used "ruthless" means to attain his goals, as Russ Feingold pointed out.
It matters because Walker is bought and paid for by the most reactionary wing of the oligarchy.
Back in 2007 on the campaign trail, Obama said: "If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I'm in the White House, I'll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I'll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner."
That somebody is not Barack Obama today.
He betrayed his promise. He abandoned his principles. All because he and his political team don't want to be too closely associated with organized labor.
"The White House has showed tepid support for the recall," an article by Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times notes today. "Democratic advisers thought the effort would take time and money away from the presidential campaign and poison the pool of independent voters who were a key part of Mr. Obama's success here four years ago."
Former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a highly unpopular Democrat whose dismal approval ratings helped sink both Russ Feingold and Tom Barrett in 2010, pathetically agrees with the White House strategy.
"As important as the recall is, in the big picture, it's much more important to get Barack Obama reelected," Doyle said.
There are a lot of progressives in Wisconsin who would disagree with Doyle on that one.
Obama and his team don't want to risk anything for Tom Barrett. Well, they risked a lot by not risking anything.
They've alienated their base in Wisconsin. People here are furious at the White House, and that won't help Obama come November.