Today kicked off a very important couple of days for the President of the United States — important within his own party, on the Republican side, and everywhere in the middle. The feeling amongst each of these groups will be assessed across three different but very critical political events.
From the Democratic side, the last Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference before the campaign of 2012 is in play. The Congressional Black Caucus by name, if not by legislation, has been one of the strongest and most vocal supporters of the President. However, the honeymoon officially ended late this summer when Rep. Maxine Waters made it clear that many in the CBC felt that Obama was not doing enough to specify and combat African American poverty and joblessness.
Moreover, during the CBC’s jobs tour across the country the discontentment with the President vocalized by some African Americans became so loud and clear that rumors swirled that the Romney campaign was actually filming interviews with unemployed black folks for future campaign spots.
Over the next few days, I will be at the CBC conference testing the waters and seeing what the attitudes are towards President Obama. It is expected that there will be some disappointment and frustration, but if it has already boiled over into apathy, especially among the political elite, that is not a good sign for the President heading forward.
In the political middle, another event is going on that could very well define the next several months for President Obama, and that is the Public Radio Program Directors Conference. This is the conference where all of the NPR affiliates from around the country meet to discuss ideas, programming and narratives heading into the next year.
NPR is fairly center left and likely has the reported about frustrated voters as consistently as any other outlet in America. Not only that but the programming directors and producers at NPR are long-term politicos from around the country, not beholden to or warped by inside-the-beltway thinking. If the views of the central Ohio NPR affiliate director and the suburban Las Vegas director are that Obama’s got a puncher’s chance, that will say a lot about what voters in those areas are feeling.
Finally on the right we have tonight’s Google/Youtube Republican debate. Now the anti-Obama rhetoric is common in these debates, but now we have new meat upon which to assess the Republican program in 2012.
Since the last Tea Party debate, Obama has put forth a new jobs bill, threatened vetos on Republican programs and shown up in Speaker of the House John Boehner’s backyard to complain about the poor state of American bridges. In other words he might be gearing up to be Campaign-Obama instead of just Punching-Bag-President Obama.
It will be important to see tonight if Republican candidates, who will surely be asked questions about these new initiatives, take an aggressive approach towards Obama’s policies, or if they adopt a dismissive “Too Little Too Late” meme in this third and crucial debate.
No one weekend determines the next 14 months but the voices and beliefs coming out of these three events over the next 72 hours will tell us a lot about the political battlefield the nation will observe in 2012.
This article originally appeared at Loop21.com under the headline “Obama plays to the left, to the right and to the middle.”