Chicago cools to Barack Obama, its hometown boy

Christina Lamb
The Sunday Times [UK]
31 January 2010

…The state of Illinois has been hit hard by the economic crisis, with unemployment at 10.8%. Gordy’s, which has been going for more than half a century, is the only shop left on the street, apart from the liquor store. Boarded-up windows are plastered with posters declaring bankruptcy, mortgage foreclosure, or auction.

Obama desperately tried to woo back these people last week with his first state of the union speech as his popularity slumped to below 50%. It was seen as critical after the shock of losing the Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy, in Democrat hands for 50 years, to Scott Brown, a former male model.

“Obama came to power because the American people were suffering from a bad case of charismaphilia,” said Milt Rosenberg, a social psychologist who hosts a radio show in Chicago. “But after a year of profligate spending and programmes, the public really didn’t want, like healthcare, the bloom is off the rose.”

Obama has insisted he will not give up on his healthcare reform, now in jeopardy with the Brown victory taking away a crucial Senate vote. But his speech focused on jobs, promising $30 billion in credits to small businesses. “He tickled the ears,” said Cee Cee. “But we gotta see the follow-up.”

Even here in Obama heartland, one customer said he would vote Republican while others may not vote at all.

The primaries to choose the candidates for November’s elections take place on Tuesday and the Brown victory has given the Republicans an unexpected boost even though they hold no statewide offices in Illinois.

“Illinois is next,” said Pat Brady, chairman of the state Republican party. “The political environment is worse here for Democrats than it was in Massachusetts.”…

The complete article is at The Sunday Times.

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