Anger Toward Obama Seen as Recalling 2008 Campaign
By Garance Franke-Ruta
Is the intensity of the anger at President Obama recently on display in protests and conservative media something new -- or have the sentiments been there all along?
White House communications director Anita Dunn argued in today's Post that what the nation has been seeing in recent weeks is not new -- just returned to prominence. "In the fall of the campaign, you could find many similar sentiments at McCain-Palin rallies and certainly at Sarah Palin rallies," she said. "These aren't new arguments. The level of vehemence, the emotional level of it, is at a campaign peak, which is unusual to find in a non-campaign year."
Former Democratic National Committee new-media outreach maven Kombiz Lavasany yesterday tweeted a Politico story that seems to make Dunn's point for her -- the language of criticism faced by the president today is similar to what he faced during the campaign.
The unmistakable momentum behind Barack Obama's campaign, combined with worry that John McCain is not doing enough to stop it, is ratcheting up fears and frustrations among conservatives.
And nowhere is this emotion on plainer display than at Republican rallies, where voters this week have shouted out insults at the mention of Obama, pleaded with McCain to get more aggressive with the Democrat and generally demonstrated the sort of visceral anger and unease that reflects a party on the precipice of panic.
The calendar is closing and the polls, at least right now, are not.
With McCain passing up the opportunity to level any tough personal shots in his first two debates and the very real prospect of an Obama presidency setting in, the sort of hard-core partisan activists who turn out for campaign events are venting in unusually personal terms.
"Terrorist!" one man screamed Monday at a New Mexico rally after McCain voiced the campaign's new rhetorical staple aimed at raising doubts about the Illinois senator: "Who is the real Barack Obama?"
"He's a damn liar!" yelled a woman Wednesday in Pennsylvania. "Get him. He's bad for our country."
At both stops, there were cries of, "Nobama," picking up on a phrase that has appeared on yard signs, T-shirts and bumper stickers.
And Thursday, at a campaign town hall in Wisconsin, one Republican brought the crowd to its feet when he used his turn at the microphone to offer a soliloquy so impassioned it made the network news and earned extended play on Rush Limbaugh's program.
"I'm mad; I'm really mad!" the voter bellowed. "And what's going to surprise ya, is it's not the economy -- it's the socialists taking over our country."
Posted at 12:52 PM ET on Sep 16, 2009
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