If Michelle Manning's frustration and disappointment is any indication of what's in store for President Barack Obama in 2012, he may be in very serious trouble. Obama, who made his re-election bid official in a video message released Monday morning, is struggling to retain his most loyal supporters. And Michelle was one of his fiercest devotees.
Back in 2008, a very pregnant Michelle, who's little brother was fighting in Iraq, protested the war and rallied hard for Obama. She took part in out-of-state get-out-the-vote campaigns. She produced the above video at her own $8,000 expense. And she sent the maximum contribution allowed by law. She was one of those people who were ridiculed as Obamacons. She took the Kool-Aid pitcher right up to her face and guzzled until she was drunk on "Change We Can Believe In." No doubt about it, Michelle was hard-core.
And then something happened after the election. There was change, alright, but not the kind that Michelle, and millions like her, expected. The president they loved and fought for was letting them down. He hadn't ended the war, as promised. He escalated the war in Afghanistan. Dropped health care reform's public option. Didn't support gay marriage. Took forever to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. Folded like a $2 lawn chair on repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. They grew angrier as he seemed to care more about placating Republicans than the die-hard progressives who put him in office. And now they're upset that he's gotten the United States embroiled in a third war, in Libya. For the Obamacons, this is not how "Hope" was supposed to look.
Michelle explains why she can no longer support and accept the inevitability of a second Obama term:
"I can't anymore. I worked too hard for him. I gave too much. I stood out in the freezing rain on Super Tuesday in Union Square holding a sign seven months pregnant begging for votes all day. I knocked on doors in Pennsylvania for two days begging for votes while I was nursing my new newborn baby, taking breaks to pump milk with a portable breast pump and a cooler in my car every three hours. I was a maxed out donor. I made two videos I put up on YouTube at my own production expense. He owes me. He needs to at least keep his promises, and he hasn't. I haven't wanted to say anything so as not to betray my party, but I am an American first, and a Democrat second, and keeping my mouth shut is wrong. We need another option in 2012. I'm afraid Mr. Obama is a one term president, and the sooner we recognize that and start working on Plan B, the better off we will be when the time comes. Pretending he's doing a good job isn't helping anyone, and I'm afraid the "give him time" grace period is over. It's reelection time already. I want another option."
To be sure, defections like Michelle's could be devastating to Obama's re-election bid. His approval rating continues to be stuck in the low-mid 40's, if you believe recent polls like Gallup. And half of those surveyed don't want him re-elected. Yet his advisers say that time is on his side. That the economy will improve enough to win over a majority of voters. That may be true. But the opposite may be true as well. Unemployment remains unacceptably high near 9%, and about 14-million Americans are still searching for work. The budget deficit is at a record high, and the economy, while recovering, isn't recovering fast enough. The military engagements in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya won't help him either. People are fed up. They're dissatisfied with the political system and the politicians who've failed them. The Michelles of the party gave their heart to a new lover. Someone who promised an entirely new kind of relationship. They put their trust and faith in Obama, and there's no mistaking that he broke those hearts.
Democrats should be scared. They should start praying that someone like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie doesn't enter the race. He 's wildly popular among moderates and independents, and many believe he'd trounce Obama. And while all eyes seem focused on human Ambien pills like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, don't be surprised to see a dark horse like Sen. Scott Brown (MA) toss his truck into the ring. He'd be quite the formidable opponent for Obama. Considering the aggressive, calculating and often ruthless campaign tactics of the GOP, 2012, for all of the reasons stated above, could be a truly horrible year for Obama.
Given this fertile landscape, would someone like Hillary Clinton recognize this reality, and opportunity, and run against her boss? One thing's for sure: Michelle Manning would drop Obama and throw her mighty weight around the Secretary of State in a nanosecond. And so would millions of others. Considering that Clinton actually won the popular vote in the 2008 Democrat primaries, is this such a far-fetched scenario? The conventional wisdom places Hillary atop the 2016 Democratic ticket. But, if Obama were to lose next year, her chances of toppling a potentially popular Republican incumbent in 2016, especially given a very likely, and strong, economic recovery these next few years, would be extremely diminished. As politically incorrect as it may seem, going head-to-head against Obama in 2012 may just be the strategically better bet for her.