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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.

Poltico's report, from a Palin rally in October:

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."

By Web Politics Editor  |  September 16, 2009; 12:52 PM ET
Categories:  Republican Party  
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Next: Gibbs: Criticism of Obama Not Based on Race


Sort of a sad how ugly the debate has become recently. I think this is more a reflection of shifting political power more than anything else.

I'm a moderate, a fiscal conservative and a social liberal; I proudly voted for Ronald Regan and Bush senior as well as Clinton and I feel sad and very disappointed with the Republican Party.

The right has lost both legislative as well as executive power over the past 8 years. Sadly, instead of standing back and thinking ... why is this happening, they seem to entrench themselves even further into some pretty negative and frankly obstructionist points of view. Rather than try to be more open and pragmatic about their positions, they only get more entrenched and vehement.

I've got news for you folks on the far, far right ... the more you dig yourself and the party into your unmovable positions, the more the people of the US (and many moderate republicans) are going to move away from you.

What's happened to the party who destroyed slavery, fought political corruption, introduced the national park system, ended two wars started by Democrats (Korea and Vietnam), reformed the tax system and freed Kuwait?

You've morphed into the party of ugly vehement ideologue ...

Posted by: fjt123 | September 17, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

It makes me hopeful that the Obama team is waking up to the fact that as far as the Republicans are concerned the campaign for the White House never ended. It may be frustrating for Obama's circle to realize that, for whatever reason, his ascension to the Presidency will not be accepted by the right wing. But like it or no... there it is. I'm hoping that Axelrod and Plouffe are already designing their own re-engagement with their political opponents sometime next Spring. As a former Obama volunteer I'll be more than happy to get back on the streets and knock on doors in support of Obama and his policies.

Posted by: georgecleveland | September 17, 2009 2:34 AM | Report abuse

This just seems like the Bush years, with the participants reversed.

Posted by: tomtildrum | September 16, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

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