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An Obama volunteer laments: A Politics Now Q&A

August 10, 2011|By Peter Nicholas
  • President Obama has lunch with campaign volunteers from across the U.S. at Ted's Bulletin restaurant in Washington.
President Obama has lunch with campaign volunteers from across the U.S.… (Larry Downing / Reuters )

It's no secret that some of President Obama's supporters are unhappy with his performance. Polls show that Democratic voters have largely remained loyal to Obama. But some who campaigned for him in 2008 are nonetheless disillusioned by a presidency that has fallen short of their expectations.

Digging deeper into this phenomenon, we checked in with Jeff Kramer, a Syracuse-based blogger playwright and humorist who in 2008 campaigned door to door for Obama in the key swing state of Pennsylvania.

Politics Now: Is there much excitement in central New York state about the president's jobs agenda, which includes patent reform, an infrastructure bank, trade deals, payroll-tax-cut renewal, and unemployment insurance extensions?

Kramer: Yes. We're all in party mode up here. We believe the end of more than half a century of economic stagnation is behind us now. Of course, central New York is used to empty promises from politicians, including Obama, but one of the reasons we're able to survive the brutal winters up here is our unfailing optimism.  The odds suggest that if enough politicians tell us they are going to fix our chronic joblessness, crumbling infrastructure and lack of investment capital, eventually one of them will end up telling the truth -- even if it turns out to be by accident.

Politics Now: What was your view of the president's handling of the debt ceiling negotiations? Were you happy with the outcome?

Kramer: I like what Obama did here. By showing his willingness to capitulate at the earliest signs of resistance, he signaled to the GOP leadership and the tea party that they could work with this president. Obama understands that values, principles and  campaign promises gum up the works. Once you shed those affectations, you can roll up your sleeves and get down to the important work of destroying the country. Obama saved us from a calamitous financial meltdown. Oh, wait....

Politics Now: Are there any lessons for Obama in the experience of past presidents? 

Kramer: Millard Fillmore. Millard had a good heart. He was a reasonable person by training and temperament. His passion for wishy-washy compromise forestalled the Civil War for several years. Obama has this same gift for slowing our demise without altering its trajectory.

Politics Now: Do you plan to once again campaign for Obama in key swing states?

Kramer: I wish the election were next month. I can't wait to get out there and remind voters of what Barack Obama stands for: winning 270 Electoral College votes at the expense of a divided, dysfunctional Republican Party.

Will my approach be different this time around? A little.  In 2008 I campaigned for national renewal and the triumph of the human spirit over powerful vested interests. In 2012 my main objective will be to convince swing voters that Obama was born in the United States and that he is not a Muslim.

Also, I want the American people to understand that Obama remains very popular throughout Europe.

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