There are some Obama haters out there, to be sure. And some of that, at least on the far lunatic fringe, might well be tinged with racial hatred. But the grassroots backlash that's been building out in fly-over country is really a reaction to two things, economic turmoil and big government, as even the "mainstream media" is coming to understand.
It's natural that Obama has become the focus of the wrath, since 1.) he's obviously a big-government liberal (I don't dare use the "S-word") and 2.) Americans have been convinced (mostly by presidents themselves, and presidential candidates) that the president has control over the economy. The fact that he's black has little to do with it. It's the government, stupid, to borrow a Clinton-era phrase from the unctuously reptilian James Carville. And the economy.
Two just-published pieces highlight the point, bases not on the suppositions of left-leaning media types, or the musings of addle-brained former presidents with a love of the spotlight, but based on scientific polling of actual Americans. Steve Moore writes in today's Wall Street Journal about the feeling among Americans that wasteful government spending is completely out of control. And a report by AOL News, highlighting results of a recent Rasmussen poll, shows that the backlash was building before Obama's election, and stems from a deepening public disgust with both major parties. The orgy of spending and government interventions on Obama's watch simply served as the tipping point.
". . . Sixty-six percent of the 1,000 adults polled on Sunday and Monday said they were either very angry or somewhat angry about federal government policies.
"People feel they're not being listened to," said Scott Rasmussen, president of the polling organization.
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The anger didn't start when the Obama administration came to power, according to Rasmussen. He pointed to polls that showed "people were overwhelmingly opposed" to President Bush's bailout of financial firms, yet the measure passed. The same was true for federal aide to automakers.
"It just fits into this same pattern of it really doesn't matter what we do. It doesn't matter what we say," Rasmussen noted. "That's what the frustration we saw in the town hall meetings was."
While President Obama has taken most of the heat lately, 60 percent of those polled said neither Democratic nor Republican leaders understand what the country needs.
"I think what people are looking for is different than what the politicians want to provide," said Rasmussen. "Part of the reason that the two parties are having a hard time ... is because they're not connecting -- they're not able to find a way to resonate with voters. They're just sort of missing the discussion."
Washington isn't the only target of populist anger, although fear of "big government" control is a common theme for protesters.
"You really have to throw big business into it as well," according to Rasmussen, who added that people don't trust the media, either.
It all adds up to a lot of frustration, he said, for voters who want to "get involved in the decision-making process in a meaningful way."
"I think there's a group of people that are reaching the point that they don't know what to do."
I've spoken at 2 tea parties and attended a third in Colorado, and, despite media insinuations about the dark and diabolical motives of attendees, my sense is that the Rasmussen poll hits the nail on the head, in terms of analyzing what's really behind the movement.