I think he’s telling the truth. Granted, The One leads Romney head to head there, but c’mon: If you were Barrett, would you have wanted O showing up on Saturday and stinking up the state with the shinola smell from Friday’s jobs report? Who needs an employment disaster like Obama around when you can get Bill Clinton instead?

Even so, there sure are a lot of progressives out there who are grumpy this morning that the best O could do on Barrett’s behalf was … a tweet. Eric Alterman:

[A]s his recent moves in the direction of gay marriage and apparent willingness to bargain away not only much of Medicare but also a significant chunk of the legacy of the New Deal and Great Society programs demonstrates, Obama sees the future of the party resting on the backs of social and suburban liberals, rather than the working-class types who have been manning (and womaning) the picket lines against Walker. The president showed a lack of enthusiasm for organized labor’s single most important priority — the so-called “card check” legislation that would have helped with organizing, received almost no serious support even when the Democrats (ostensibly) controlled both houses of Congress.

But in failing to dance with the ones that “brung him,” Obama is playing a dangerous game. Turning out the base, winning back small contributors, and engaging volunteers will be infinitely more difficult for a president who has disappointed so many of his most devoted supporters in 2008. Sure, they are going to vote for him. But in a post-Citizens United world, as Wisconsin demonstrates better than anywhere, Republicans will enjoy a massive spending advantage in both advertising and organizing efforts this year. A victory for Walker will not only give them the feeling of wind at their back, it will help cement a media narrative that puts such efforts at the center of the story of why Mitt Romney is, in this economic and political environment, a good bet for November. Had Obama thrown himself into the race on the side of the team that fought so hard for him, supporters, opponents and reporters would all understand that this is a candidate who intends to do all he can in this fight and to risk whatever it takes.

So if Obama had dived into the race and Barrett lost anyway, liberals would have been invigorated and reached for their wallets instead of feeling dejected and convinced that O’s a paper tiger/likely loser in the fall? Hmmmm. Here’s a better question: Given that Walker’s been labor’s public enemy number one for 16 months, why do they even need Obama to help carry them over the finish line? This has been shaping up as a death struggle over the future of public employee unions for more than a year, on turf that’s normally highly favorable to labor. It’s like the Packers playing the Super Bowl at Lambeau and suddenly deciding that they can’t win without having a 12th man on the field. More from the Madison Progressive, via Ann Althouse:

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…

They’ve alienated their base in Wisconsin. People here are furious at the White House, and that won’t help Obama come November.

Leftists are going to punish Obama for staying away by handing the White House to Mitt Romney? I’ll believe it when I see it. Incidentally, how’s everyone feeling on this beautiful recall Tuesday? Hopeful? Doubtful? Maybe a little bit queasy? Don’t worry: That’s how I feel every day of my eeyorish life. It’s not so bad. Humpbot is off doing jumping jacks to limber up in case he’s needed tonight, but while we wait for polls to close, go read Mickey Kaus on why he’s a proud pro-Walker Democrat. Exit quotation: “Even if you support private sector unionism, I don’t think public sector unionism makes sense–if the unions win too much, we can’t let the government go broke the way we can let GM go broke… Democrats who believe in affirmative government should want it to be as efficient and affordable as possible–so we can afford more of it, if necessary. The combination of official bureaucracy plus labor adversarialism plus dues-fueled political contributions has not been a happy one.”