Obama’s vulnerability from former supporters

That President Barack Obama has been under unrelenting and implacable attack and resistance from all manner of Republicans, from the moderate to the Tea Party, is not news to anyone who has paid the least bit of attention since January 20, 2009, the day he became the forty-forth president of the United States.

That an overwhelmingly white and religiously fervent group of people would strenuously resist the nation’s first black president is hardly a surprise. Indeed, this relentless opposition and recent credit downgrade have contributed to the sub-40 percent approval rating Obama has received, according to last week’s Gallup polls.

What is perhaps more troubling for his reelection prospects is the discontent that is rumbling among his former supporters.

I met one of them at the Red Roof Diner, a homey restaurant located near the entrance to Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, where Obama stopped for a Rural Economic Forum on his “listening tour” of the Midwest.

A stocky white man with glasses who worked at a salvage yard and had a propensity for memorable phrases-he called the debt a “sword of Damocles” that is likely to hang over the nation for decades-Kevin explained that he had been “foursquare” behind Obama in 2008.

Now, though, is a different story.

He’s looking hard at other candidates.

At this point, the one he feels most enthusiastic about is Ron Paul, the “intellectual godfather” of the Tea Party and a fountain of libertarian ideas and policies.

Kevin said what has disappointed him most about Obama is his unwillingness to engage in political combat against his opponents.

“I told him, ‘You need to fight,'” said Kevin, who said he has met Obama on three occasions.  While the then-senator did not respond verbally to the exhortation, Kevin said he felt Obama’s discontent, even anger.

Obama also is generating anger among some African-Americans, who faulted him for not stopping in black neighborhoods during his heartland bus tour.

Many people who have been reluctant to criticize him publicly due to their pride in his being the first black president and the knowledge that his political adversaries are only too willing to use criticism for their own purposes. Nevertheless, the foreclosures and job losses that have devastated so many black neighborhoods in the nation’s cities are starting to cause people to speak out.

Here is U.S. Rep Maxine Waters speaking in Detroit on Tuesday. Notice the blend of wanting to give the president “every last opportunity” with the statement that she and others in the Congressional Black Caucus “don’t know what the strategy is.”

Beyond Waters’ words, the passionate response from the audience should be the deepest cause for Obama’s concern.

Meanwhile, I also spoke in Dubuque, Iowa with Horacio, a permanent deacon at St. Patrick’s church, the only one in town that holds a mass in Spanish.  Horacio explained that Obama’s unfulfilled promise of immigration reform has led him and other Latinos who voted for his message of hope and change in 2008 to be far more wary for the upcoming election.

Latino, rural white and black voters were all key groups in Obama’s historic victory in 2008.  While there is still time for him to bring these folks back into his fold, it’s hard to see what tools he has left in his arsenal to generate the same passion and fervent belief-anyone still remember the audacity of hope-that propelled him to his groundbreaking win.


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