Can embattled Obama recapture his old magic?

President Barack Obama speaks to reporters in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 14, 2011, during his meeting with Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen. (AP Photo)

Barack Obama rode a wave of voter passion in 2008 fed largely by intense dislike of President George W. Bush and the Iraq war, plus excitement among young and minority voters at the notion of electing the nation’s first black president.

Now, as Obama cranks up his re-election campaign, all those factors are absent.

The president has many tools, of course, for inspiring and exciting potential voters. But he faces a different landscape, one in which key supporters are disappointed by concessions he has made to Republicans, and discouraged by huge Democratic losses last fall.

Obama acknowledged the challenge last week in Boston. “Somebody asked me, how do we reinvigorate the population, the voter, after two very tough years?” he told Democratic donors. “How do we recapture that magic that got so many young people involved for the very first time in 2008?”

One answer, the president said, is to persuade hardcore liberals to swallow their anger over political compromises the administration reached with Republicans, even when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress.

Obama’s concessions include dropping his proposed public option for health insurance, and extending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest.

“There’s no weakness in us trying to reach out and seeing if we can find common ground,” the president said.

Despite his pleas, many Obama supporters clearly are disappointed. When he was inaugurated, 83 percent of Democrats said they expected his presidency to be above average, and nearly half predicted it would be “outstanding,” an AP-GfK poll found. Two years later, 68 percent of Democrats rated it above average so far, and just 20 percent called it outstanding.

Last fall’s elections were a disaster not only for the hundreds of Democrats voted out of Congress, governorships and state legislatures. They raised questions about Obama, too.

Thirty-seven percent of voters told exit pollsters they cast ballots explicitly to oppose the president, while 23 percent said their votes represented support for him.

Top Obama aides say things will look better by mid-2012, for several reasons.

They say GOP-led efforts to end state workers’ collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin and elsewhere are dramatically galvanizing the labor movement, a key Democratic constituency. Some union activists wish Obama would speak up more forcefully for them. But campaign aides say they think he is walking the right line by supporting unions without appearing unduly beholden to them.

Another key group, gays and lesbians, may shrug off several disappointments and work hard for Obama’s re-election because he signed legislation beginning the repeal of the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which barred gays from serving openly in the military.

Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in an interview that the president will be able to show solid progress on the economy, education and other topics that will persuade dispirited Democrats to fight for Obama’s re-election.

These issues will “continue to animate core supporters of the president,” Gibbs said, and “get them passionately involved.”

He predicted that Republicans will help by focusing on undoing Obama initiatives, such as the 2010 health care overhaul, rather than offering an appealing alternative agenda. “Being against something is only going to get you so far,” Gibbs said.

Several Democratic activists acknowledged that some black voters are disappointed in Obama, wishing he would do more for impoverished Americans. But these voters might be far more outraged and energized, the activists say, by people who say the nation’s first black president was born in Kenya and has no legal right to be in the White House.

Some Democrats say they may need luck to replicate the passionate turnout of Obama’s first campaign. The often-stated claim that voters would embrace the health care law once it began taking effect has proven mostly untrue. But another year may change that, these Democrats say.

For now, the Obama team is unveiling few new ideas specifically keyed to firing up core constituencies. A recent White House conference call urged young voters to hold roundtables, which administration officials may attend, to discuss priorities and offer feedback.

Beyond that, Obama eventually plans large rallies similar to those in 2008. They create showy spectacles that excite young voters, but they also serve a fundraising role. People who enter the stadiums or buy Obama T-shirts are asked to provide their names and contact information, which are used later to request donations and volunteer activities.

Republicans predict Obama will easily exceed the record $750 million he raised for the 2008 race, even without a competitive Democratic primary.

When it comes to energizing the Democratic base and turning out the vote, however, Obama will sorely miss one person: George W. Bush. His unpopularity helped cripple GOP nominee John McCain‘s efforts to overtake Obama in 2008.

A few days before the election, Bush’s disapproval rating hit a record 70 percent in the Pew Research Center survey. A declining number of likely voters, meanwhile, felt McCain would take the country in a different direction.

Whatever problems the eventual 2012 Republican nominee may have, Bush will be a distant memory. Obama will have to find a new punching bag, and new incentives, to fire up his base.

___

Associated Press Deputy Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

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17 Responses to "Can embattled Obama recapture his old magic?"

  1. Carl Nemo  March 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Looking at the supplied photo, the man looks bewildered and no doubt confused. Seemingly he doesn’t get it.

    He’s conducted his presidency to date as if he and his family are simply ‘visitors’ in the White House. Lotsa play, lotsa parties and travel; lotsa yuck yuck geck geck balloon and cookie party nonsense, but nothing of substance that would indicate he’s a man of the people. Seemingly the electorate has been taken in by a slick-talking, shape-shifting snake oil salesman with his “change we can believe’ mantra that was planted in our minds while on the campaign trail as a function of his ‘handlers’.

    If he’d have an epiphany concerning the error of his ways and start firing his large coterie of hangers on from previous administrations who are directly linked to many of our current problems, along with a host of his ‘leftie’, faceless Czars who weren’t vetted by Congress and embrace “We the People” who put him in office then maybe his fortunes might come about. Will he do so…? Nah, that will take some chutzpah and work on his part. The guy doesn’t have a fingernail paring’s worth of leadership within. Why so, simply because he’s an ‘empty suit’; I.E., a “Potemkin Village” character.

    Things are going to get far worse than better on his watch. That ‘old magic’ of his surely turned into nothing but a mere sleight of hand, cheap parlor trick, on our behalf ; I.E., “We the People”… : |

    Carl Nemo **==

    • griff  March 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      Don’t worry, Carl. The Democrats will fall in line once we get closer. As will the Republicans. They’ll make outlandish promises their faithful will believe. They’ll make brilliant speeches full of rose pedals and sunshine. They’ll bewilder and bedazzle we gullible Americans and we will eat all up like a Christmas ham.

      • Carl Nemo  March 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm

        Thanks griff for the lunchtime trigger word…’ham’. I think I’ll make a ham sandwich and daydream of better times to come under whomever lies the best in the runup to the 2012 elections. : ))

        Carl Nemo **==

        • griff  March 15, 2011 at 4:53 pm

          That’s right, lunchtime in your neck of the woods. Don’t wash it down with tap water please.

          My friend just finished posting a 7 part video of Dr. Paul Connett’s talk at Colgate University bookstore from last week. A must-see for every one.

          Due to apparent spamblocker blocking posts with multiple links, I’ll post a link to the first segment. You can find the rest or visit his channel.

          The Case Against Fluoride

          • Carl Nemo  March 15, 2011 at 5:14 pm

            Thanks for the link. I have “extremely pure” well water tested to only 20 ppm calcium and 12 ppm magnesium nothing else except the H2O. That’s how the test report called it. It’s slightly hard but it tastes great and of course no fluoride and has a pH of 7.2.

            Maybe that’s why I can still ‘think’ to some degree, but then again I voted for the guy so maybe there’s a problem with water being too pure too…no? : ))

            Carl Nemo **==

        • NightWisp  March 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm

          I thought the trigger words were … Twinkle , Twinkle, Little star?
          OOPs.. I’m bad.

          Can we spell Obama? ” Yes we can.” . L -O-S-E-R

          Obama the puppet can do anything…
          Sing and dance… swing on a swing.
          Obama the Puppet can do anything…
          When somebody else pulls the strings.
          The strings, When somebody else pulls the strings.

          Could the puppet master be George Soros? He said he was the puppet master? hmmm.

          Obama never had any magic. This was slight of hand. And maybe mass hypnosis from external sources.

          But then, there were casting calls for Obama gatherings and the people were culled. So maybe, that was the script. Ya think?

          • Carl Nemo  March 15, 2011 at 5:18 pm

            Thanks NightWisp for the great ‘poetry’… :D

            Here’s a link with some commentary from various readers concerning Soros’ involvement with the Obama camp. The Koch Bros. are the flip side of the same counterfeit coin; ie., control of the unwashed masses.

            http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080821062200AAC0GVO

            Some of the comments are quite good and seemingly researched and informed.

            Carl Nemo **==

    • b mcclellan  March 15, 2011 at 7:25 pm

      That feigned bewilderment on his face reflects only that he didn’t think the job would get this old, this fast.
      He works like the janitor whose hands won’t grasp the broom handle that swept him into office while refusing to rinse Dubya’s mop…Hack.

      • Carl Nemo  March 15, 2011 at 8:40 pm

        Bryan, you always come up with great analogies… : D

        Carl Nemo **==

        • b mcclellan  March 15, 2011 at 10:31 pm

          Honestly, I’m far more disgusted than angry Carl, as crude is uncharacteristically right around the corner,
          there are two nearly insurmountable conflictual realities with this individual, the rock star suddenly becomes the magician,
          which in turn,
          is a step down to President.
          Do we wait for his Svengali stage or demand viable alternatives ?
          Threaten recall by popular demand ?
          Lotsa bad fish floatin in that pool, but once past the smell, Congress awaits.

          • Almandine  March 15, 2011 at 10:38 pm

            Ain’t gonna happen. They can’t even bring themselves to admit that anyone applying for any govt job would have to show his credentials, which are the last thing this guy wants to bring forward.

            Beyond that… even the slightest displeasure with his modus operandi is prima facie evidence that you’re a racist.

            What a rotten kettle of fish, Ollie!

            • woody188  March 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm

              Kind of crazy I have to show the school board a notarized (embossed stamp) birth certificate, social security card, and utility bill to get my 5-year old registered for kindergarten but to run for President the requirements aren’t as stringent.

              • Carl Nemo  March 16, 2011 at 1:41 am

                You know what’s amazing Woody about the registration of your five year old is that the American people who are drug tested so willingly and passively along with a background check for even a job at Walmart or McDonalds are satisfied that anyone can run for public office and meet “no” standards whatsoever. They put up a sign along the freeway exits and access ramps with their photo and some jive turkey slogan, then we elect them to run our lives. Think about it. Is this insane or what…?! : O

                Are these people security checked, their bonafides verified then tested for drugs just the same as the citizens that must suffer under their hypocritical legislative edicts?

                Why, oh why do we continue to suffer under their collective boot of ‘contrived’ oppression upon our necks? / : |

                Soon I sense it will be time to ‘rush the perimeter’ so to speak…no? : |

                Carl Nemo **==

            • b mcclellan  March 15, 2011 at 11:20 pm

              C’mon Al,
              people reach a consensus and are either herded on to lesser pastures, or they get bucked off more than once for fear of fences near turnip trucks repossessed..Deuces wild..
              These two yutes is all it takes….revlovertnelis.

              • Almandine  March 16, 2011 at 9:11 pm

                Walleye, I believe it is…

                then again, I’ll raise you 2 carp.

  2. Sandune  March 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Wow, this whole fluoridation of the water mess is back for the 3rd time. My husband did a television tour when he gave the many reasons for not adding anything to the water system in Los Angeles County. He was one of 7 scientists who were horrified that any chemical would be added to the water in anyone’s home. But then we were small government Republicans without any desire for Big Brother to add anything to our choices.

    Several years ago, it came up here at RR and my mentioning the problem brought the monitors down on my arse because I did not believe in God and did not want chemicals in my kid’s food and drink. The weaker minds of most internet groups will always throw labels around to make many of us feel emotionally deformed.

    Be aware that anything you like or dislike will come back and kick you down if you wait long enough. I guess it is time for me to laugh at anyone who can state a fact for or against any action.

    I learned that working for a small government brings on laughter from others. Searching for corruption in our many levels of government is another action for cruel and rude comments. I’m tired of the repeated action alerts when nobody understands the situations. This morning, a gentleman spoke for an hour on the mess NAFTA made of our manufacturing corporations who had to move off shore. Our major money makers in commerce located a series of banks in the Caribbean where no taxes are paid to the IRS. Everyone knows about this but not a single member of the House or Senate will stand up and make this right.

    Someday a group of men of ethics will stand up and begin to gather information on making America a land of honor. This group will be called elitists, racists and anything else that the ignorant fools can use as a negative.

    So line up your insults and throw them. It is a shame that something of the truth cannot stick to anyone on this site. I guess the subject of politics is not of importance to remember the warnings of problems that could have been solved if only we could have shared the mass of problems in our treaties and trade agreement. So who could I get elected who would stand up for the loss of corruption and imbalance of our trade agreements.

    I guess some time in the next 20 years, maybe NAFTA might get back into the front pages of these forums. When will we learn not to allow our government to mandate chemicals into our water supply?. It is that people simply get bored with each other on CHB? For the last 60 years, I have worked every election to mention the inequality of the minorities trying to force prohibitions into our bill of rights. I guess unless you learn the massive advantage of this bill, you wont miss it when the bible swallows it up. You have done nothing about the lack of academics in your kids’ classrooms. Tom Friedman has written volumes about the problems our kids will have finding employment.

    It is now just hitting home with my grandkids. Why am I so different when it comes to my time spent on this planet? Is it because when I die, that is all there is. I don’t have a ghost waiting for my request for salvation before I go to heaven. I will have 80 years to make my point with my kids, with my own honor and with a good credit rating.

    I waste my time trying to remind others of their responsibilities other than insulting others with a terrorism from your God. How can you educate yourselves if you don’t read the words of many experts on many subjects. Everytime I walk into a library, I get dizzy with desire to know how all the authors think.

    Even after the earthquake mess in the Pacific Ring, is there anyone interested in helping their kids survive? Apparently prayers are all you need. It is the cheap short cut to action. Do you know your family’s blood type? I guess, do you care would be a good question.

  3. NightWisp  March 17, 2011 at 12:49 am

    I really wish Obama could summon enough magic to make himself disappear forever from political life.

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