President Obama's week of wooing younger Democrats ahead of Election 2010
All week President Obama has been trying to reenergize the youth vote for the Democrats. Comedians Jon Stewart and David Letterman had some suggestions for President Obama as he works to combat the Democrats' apathy.
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Comedian Jon Stewart played a clip on "The Daily Show" Thursday night, which showed President Barack Obama talking to a roomful of student-age voters about how pundits who make provocative statements are being rewarded with more TV time and ... ohhh, cue giant yawn by a young man in the audience.
"Tough homeroom!" Stewart exclaimed.
This seems pretty indicative of the state of the Democrats thus far in Election 2010.
Earlier this week, we looked at comedian Stephen Colbert's reaction to the Dems' apathy: Let them eat cheesecake! And Monitor staff writer Peter Grier suggested that Vice President Joe Biden tell the Democratic base not only to "stop whining," but to stop yawning too.
Apparently, the yawn has spread to the yutes.
Which is why the POTUS spent most of his week trying to reenergize Democratic youth voters. NPR reported that "voters younger than 30 are still the single best age group for Obama," according to Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
On Monday, Obama spoke to college students on a conference call. Journalism majors from across the country called in to join in a discussion with the president about "the steps his administration has taken to address the concerns and issues important to young Americans,” according to the White House Media Affairs Office.
"You can't sit it out," Obama told the students.
With Veep Joe Biden at Penn State on Tuesday urging students to "keep the phone calls going, keep knocking on doors, and commit to vote," Obama at the University of Wisconsin in Madison dug back in to the rhetoric of the 2008 election pulling out all the untelepromted stops:
"Change is going to come! If we work for it! If we fight for it!"
"Now is not the time to lose heart. Now is not the time to give up. We do not quit."
"They're betting on your apathy. ... So Madison, you've got to prove them wrong. Change happens from the bottom up. Change happens because of you! Change happens because of you!"
He's baaack. Goosebumps anyone?
But then on Wednesday, the day of the infamous yawn, Obama hosted more of his unscripted, small gatherings in Iowa and Virginia. Here's where he could've used David Letterman's "Top 10 Ways Obama Can Boost His Popularity with Younger Voters," from "The Late Show" later that evening.
"I was amused -- Jon Stewart, you know, the host of The Daily Show, apparently he's going to host a rally called something like Americans in favor of a return to sanity, or something like that," Obama said.
The Rally for Americans in Favor of a Return to Sanity or Something Like That.
All that's missing is a few extra "and ummms," "likes," or a "you know," to really cement the connection with today's youth. Or maybe just some more Justin Bieber, according to Letterman. Surely that would have guaranteed a yawn-free backyard summit of yutes.
"Alright, maybe the president was not at his most riveting..." Stewart said of Obama's Sept. 29 clip.
"'Now is not the time to quit!' the president shouted into the darkened hall as the young voters cheered him. 'Our future is in our hands, and that’s what’s being tested' in the current financial crisis," ABC News reported.
In the intervening two years, that shine has worn off somewhat among young voters -- an almost-inevitable erosion that is the result of the differences between the excitement of a campaign and the mundane day in, day out-ness of governing. ("The euphoria has dimmed down," one college student told the Post's Phil Rucker in advance of the President's visit today.)
That "dimming" effect could well make it more difficult for Obama and Democrats to overcome historical trends -- and more recent polling -- that make clear that young people are simply not as interested in midterm elections as presidential ones.
After his week of keeping up with young American voters, Obama said at a $30,400-per-person fundraiser that he'd "appreciate a little break."
Do you think he's earned one?