Democrats are Discontented, Frustrated, and Concerned
"You don't actually believe that we have any shot at ousting the President in next year's election, do you?" my friend incredulously asked over tea in a San Francisco cafe last week.
"Sure I do," I replied. And I pulled up Maureen Dowd's column from last weekend on my phone to demonstrate what I believe to be widespread liberal disillusionment with Obama.
"But since when does Maureen Dowd represent what the mainstream liberal really thinks?" my friend retorted. She had a point.
Last night, I sent this NYT article to my friend to follow up on our conversation. I take away two points from the piece. The first is that rank and file Democrats have moved beyond mere disillusionment. They're now talking about deep discontent and frustration.
“In my district, the enthusiasm for him has mostly evaporated,” said Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon. “There is tremendous discontent with his direction.”
But a survey of two dozen Democratic officials found a palpable sense of concern that transcended a single week of ups and downs. The conversations signaled a change in mood from only a few months ago, when Democrats widely believed that Mr. Obama’s path to re-election, while challenging, was secure.
“The frustrations are real,” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, who was the state chairman of Mr. Obama’s campaign four years ago. “I think we know that there is a Barack Obama that’s deep in there, but he’s got to synchronize it with passion and principles.”
Mr. DeFazio recalled attending a dozen or so town-hall-style meetings recently in his district, a slice of western Oregon that Mr. Obama carried in 2008 by 11 percentage points. Mr. DeFazio said party loyalists had bluntly said they were reconsidering their support.
“I have one heck of a lot of Democrats saying, ‘I voted for him before, don’t know if I can do it again,’ ” he said.
The second salient point is that the party faithful are noticeably squirming. Everyone has his own criticism to lob at the President.
“Now that they’re slapping him in the side of the face, he’s coming back,” said William George, a committee member from Pennsylvania. “He needs to start stomping his foot and pounding the desk.”...
“He should have given it [the jobs speech] earlier,” said Representative John D. Dingell of Michigan.
Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio said, “He’s got to engage, make the contrast and occasionally be combative.”
“We need to work more on the message,” Mr. Rodriguez said...
So on the question of whether the President is in trouble with his reelection efforts, there's no doubt that he is. Next question: Would a John McCain (that is to say Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, or any other candidate who will have an awfully hard time energizing the base) beat Obama in 2012?