Tuesday, June 07, 2011

College students' judgment of Obama has cooled significantly — sometimes to the point of disillusionment

Oberlin is one of the United States’ most traditionally — read doggedly — liberal and distinguished small colleges.
As the Ohio school is "Always earnest, often estimable and not particularly wacky in terms of lifestyle," muses John Vinocur (the most conservative commentator working for the New York Times) in the International Herald Tribune, that is a reason why it is significant to note that a
professor of politics at the college, describing Oberlin students’ judgment of President Barack Obama, said it had cooled significantly — sometimes to the point of disillusionment.

…Oberlin students now being described as “disheartened” by the performance of their President Obama, or standing at a distance from Oberlin’s badge of honor of engaged, left-wing politics?

That’s a speck of confetti in a storm of pre-2012 election indicators in America, but it’s also a fact that Mr. Obama’s most diligent canvassers in 2008 often came from the country’s campuses. Without the enthusiasm and activism of millions of students — and their authenticating support for the would-be president’s pitch as the unifying candidate of change — Mr. Obama might not have found a bridge for bringing groups of independents and Reagan Democrats into his camp.

… Michael Parkin, the faculty voice who described the Oberlin trend, placed the change of affection in relationship to the president in an emotional framework.

In a conversation after the symposium, he spoke of a love affair that, to a palpable degree, had wound down. “It started hot and heavy,” he said. “And with extremely idealized notions. Then a reality dawned in the way that a once charming laugh becomes an irritating giggle: He’s a politician who no longer corresponds to the grand ideas that many students had in their heads about him. And that’s deflating and disheartening for them.”

… Potentially pleasing to his campus activist supporters, his initial areas of focus — a world without nuclear weapons, or an apologetic refusal to hold up U.S. democracy as a model for the Arab and Islamic world — have been scaled down as presidential hallmarks.