Election 2016: Clinton message taking shape
CBS DC reports disenchantment in the air at the liberal Netroots Nation 2012 gathering over President Obama’s time in the WH:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CBSDC/AP) — They are trying to be hopeful, but the Democratic Party’s most passionate voters are struggling to hide their frustration with President Barack Obama.
Republicans attack the president as a big-government liberal. Many liberals meeting Thursday at Netroots Nation — it describes the annual convention as “a giant family reunion for the left” — argue instead that Obama hasn’t fought hard enough for progressive priorities on taxes, health care and the economy.
Even more problematic for the president: With the election just five months away, some are threatening not to donate money or time or even vote in November for the man who overwhelmingly ignited their passions and captured their imaginations four years ago.
“I want to be happy with him,” said Democrat Kristine Vaughan, a 45-year-old school psychologist from Canton, Ohio. “But I am finding that he has succumbed to the corporate influence as much as everyone else. I think he has so much potential to break out of that, but overall he has been a disappointment.”
Vaughan isn’t sure whether she’ll vote for Obama a second time and probably won’t donate money as she did during his first campaign. She refuses to support Republican challenger Mitt Romney, but is considering writing in another candidate in protest.
The sentiment is not unique among the 2,700 people gathered on the first day of this three-day convention. More than a dozen liberals interviewed here indicated some level of frustration with the president, despite widespread praise for his recent decision to support gay marriage and ongoing push to scale back military action in the Middle East.
Most plan on voting for Obama and their gripes are not unlike what the White House has heard for much of the president’s term. But these left-leaning backers’ varying levels of enthusiasm could spell trouble for a president whose 2008 victory was fueled by a massive network of grass-roots volunteers and small-dollar donors. Polls show the president locked in a tight race that’s likely to be decided in several swing states where he scored narrow victories four years ago. Places like Ohio, Florida and Virginia are expected to be especially competitive, and Obama will need liberal supporters to both work on his behalf and turn out in droves on Election Day.
Stoking the anti-Obama discontent, in spite of a pre-recorded video message from the President shown prior to the keynote address at NN12, was former Obama green czar Van Jones – the keynote speaker himself:
“He stands up for Trayvon; he stands up for gay marriage; we like him,” Jones said of Obama in the keynote speech of the evening. “But we’re not in love with him.”
“We went from having a crush to feeling crushed,” he added, as the convention hall — which at about 1,500 activists was about half-full compared with where it stood during Warren’s address on Friday — responded with cheers and applause.
Jones in September 2009 resigned from his “green czar” post amid pressure from the right over his past activism, including the appearance of his name on a petition for a group suggesting the Bush administration was responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Jones has maintained that he never signed the petition and does not agree with the statement.
In the years since, he has remained popular among the left and has stayed active in politics as a fellow at the Center for American Progress and as founder of the Rebuild the Dream campaign.
His Saturday night remarks, which came on the heels of Democrats’ loss in the Wisconsin recall election and as Obama has stumbled on the campaign trial, underscored the challenge the president faces in energizing his base in November.
“We have a quandary,” Jones said Saturday night. “We know we’re supposed to be fired up, and we know we’re supposed to be ready to go. But we’re pissed off! We’re mad. And we have reason to be. … Somebody said, ‘I feel like I’m caught between Barack and a hard place.’”
Jones urged the progressive base to be “twice as committed and twice as passionate as we were in 2008,” calling on them to both work to reelect Obama and “hold the president accountable to progressive values.”
“We have to have a president who’s willing to be moved, and you have to have a movement that’s willing to do the moving. And we have not had both at the same time,” he said.
But even as he called on activists to rally behind the president, Jones backed up his argument with a list not of reasons to be enthusiastic about Obama, but rather of reasons to oppose Republicans, including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
All I have to say is that these people are batsh*t crazy if they think Obama “hasn’t been liberal enough” – from ObamaCare, to “spread the wealth”, to higher taxes, to a deep disdain for capitalism, to the belief in the power of government over the rights of the individual, to far left beliefs on social issues like abortion, this guy is undoubtedly a liberal – well to the left of any Democrat president in modern history — in fact, possibly in all of US history. And if the nitwits at Netroots Nation really believe he isn’t, than they’re even further to the left than I had previously thought.
Twitter has been a hotbed of discussion about #NN12 by both conservatives and liberals. Read the diversity of opinions here.