Union leaders claim they uphold professional standards. But aside from police and fire unions fighting dumbed-down hiring and promotion exams, it's hard to find examples of this actually happening -- much harder than finding incompetents and miscreants kept on the public payroll by their unions.
Perhaps the weakness of the case for public employee unions kept Barack Obama from doing much to help them in Wisconsin. Or perhaps he was preoccupied by the faltering economy or fatigued by the six fundraisers he attended last Friday, when the dismal jobs numbers came out.
Whatever the reason, Obama did fly over Wisconsin from a Minneapolis fundraiser to his home in Chicago. And on Monday, he tweeted his "backing" of Tom Barrett, although he didn't use the full 140 characters.
It's not the first time Democrats have stiffed their union funders. Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed House members to cast tough (in some cases career-ending) votes for cap-and-trade and Obamacare.
But Obama didn't push hard, or much at all, for the unions' card-check bill, which union leaders hoped would enable them to reverse the long decline in private-sector union membership.
Now the public employee unions are threatened. Walker's victory in Wisconsin shows that the case against powerful public employee unions can be not only defended but advanced, in a state with a long progressive tradition, which has not voted Republican for president since 1984.
That's a lesson that may be taken to heart by governors, legislatures and voters in other states being pushed toward bankruptcy by union-negotiated benefits and pensions.