Some at liberal conference disenchanted with Obama

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama waves as he steps off Air Force One at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Thursday, May 5, 2011, en route to Ground Zero the day after he announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

On the ground level of the Minneapolis Convention Center, attendees of the 2011 Netroots Nation conference packed a session called, "What to Do When the President is Just Not That Into You."

For a segment of the progressive bloggers, writers, activists and voters at their sixth annual meetup being held this year in Minneapolis, the title of the seminar sums up the mood here perfectly about President Barack Obama.

"I think he's a moderate Republican and I really would have liked to have voted for a Democrat," said Marc Sobel who's at the conference on his own from Boulder, Colorado. "I don't know how hard I'm going to work for him [in 2012]. He's going to get all his money from Wall Street."

Sobel is just one of the many people who helped get President Barack Obama elected in 2008 who now say they're disappointed in how Obama has handled a range of policy issues, including the economy, the conflicts in the Middle East, same-sex marriage and environmental protection.

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But Sobel's feelings about Obama's performance are just one end of the spectrum at this year's conference, said Raven Brooks, who is executive director of Netroots Nation.

"There's people ranging on the end of incredibly angry and frustrated ... to people that are maybe frustrated at times with the administration's approach to things, but are generally on the team trying to get people motivated," he said.

Jodie Evans, cofounder of CodePink Women for Peace, is one of those incredibly frustrated people. She was already discouraged with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the nation's current involvement in Libya has pushed her further away from the Obama administration, she said.

"Haven't we learned anything? We destroyed Iraq. We've destroyed Afghanistan. We want to destroy Libya," Evans said. "He's that arrogant to think that you can just go bomb a country into peace?"

Evans, who supported and contributed to Obama in 2008, but did not end up voting for him, said that rallying members of the anti-war movement in 2012 will be that much more difficult in the wake of Obama's war policies.

Still, despite their frustration, few attendees at Netroots Nation say they've decided not to vote for Obama in 2012.

David Castillo, new media manager for the National Council of La Raza, and Mary Moreno, communications director for Voto Latino -- both groups that engage Latino voters -- say their members want to support Obama again in 2012, but are still waiting to see what he'll do on immigration.

Absent immigration reform in the next 18 months, both Castillo and Moreno worry that their memberships simply won't vote.

"If you don't vote, you're not going to be a factor in future decisions," said Moreno. "The more we vote, the stronger our voice."

Cheryl McLeod works for a teachers union in Maryland, but is at the conference on her own. She's among the grassroots organizers who said she has no hesitation about supporting Obama in 2012.

As she goes door to door talking to voters, she's focused on reminding people of Obama's successes during his limited time in office.

Skeptics, McLeod said, are too impatient.

"Where we could have been and where we are now is a night-and-day dynamic," she said.

The mixed bag of feelings about Obama's presidency seems to be playing itself out in Minnesota, too.

Dave Callaway, a regional organizer in Minnesota for, a left-leaning political advocacy group, says he hears people say that Obama let them down by not including a public option in the new health care law, and was too quick to compromise on extending the Bush tax cuts for two more years.

But are those issues deal breakers?

"No," Callaway said. "The other deal is going to be way worse."