When Jon Stewart characterized the Obama administration’s agenda as “timid” in his interview with the president last week, the phrase seemed to capture a growing sense of disappointment among those voters who, just two years ago, had infused the Obama campaign with a seemingly limitless store of energy and enthusiasm.
Now, Obama voters seem not only unenthused, but downright detached. Most of those young people who, in 2008, organized phone banks on college campuses and rode buses to battleground states to knock on doors seem to have little to say about the Obama presidency so far. Many seem uninspired by, or even uninterested in, the details of his legislative plans.
Or, as Shavanna Miller, a recent college graduate who works in social media in Washington, D.C. put it, “I kept hearing, ‘WTF has Obama done so far?’”
She added: “It just seemed time to investigate a bit.”
That investigation led to the founding of a new, colorfully named website detailing Obama’s actions, WhatTheF___HasObamaDoneSoFar.com (You get the idea). Miller and two web developer friends, Richard Boenigk and Will Carlough, coded the site over the weekend and launched it this week, and have so far received a warm reception on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter (Questlove, drummer for the band The Roots, suggested that Obama make the page his “official website”).
The site takes a simple premise — the fact that few Obama supporters seem to be aware of the administration’s agenda — and provides a simple solution: A Twitter-sized factoid summarizing a domestic or foreign policy accomplishment and a button — with phrases like, “I’m unimpressed” or “That doesn’t affect me personally so who cares” — to click for more of the same. There’s also a link for user submissions, which have already arrived in a steady stream, according to the site’s creators.
The idea seems a tidy riposte, sized for the digital age, to conservatives and Tea Party activists who allege the Obama administration has done little if anything to pull the country back from the brink of the economic downturn. Democrats so far have struggled to craft an effective response to that argument; after only a few hours of work, Miller, Boenigk and Carlough seem to have succeeded where they failed.
But as the creators explained, the site isn’t just a response to Obama’s opponents, or even to those uber-aware liberals who manage to keep tabs on Obama and “would prefer to see dissertations instead of one-liners,” as Miller put it. Instead, she added, the site is simply a “morale boost” of sorts, “even if it only lasts for a 48-hour viral web cycle before everyone goes back to being defeatists.”
The site, of course, is unlikely to change minds, as even it’s founders admit.
“I think conservatives these days are actually more aware of Obama’s accomplishments than liberals are,” Boenigk said. “It’s strange that half the country can think he’s destroying America while the other half is underwhelmed that he’s not doing more. Liberals should be at least as happy with what Obama has done as conservatives are upset with it.”
But perhaps the site will at least reinvigorate some otherwise disaffected liberals, especially as the 2012 election approaches and Obama prepares to spar with Republican leaders over issues like tax cuts, education and health care.
Or maybe it will just restore the time-honored place of profanity in our politics.
“Making curse words more socially acceptable in political discourse” is how Carlough jokingly described the site’s mission. “I find that censor bleep so irritating.”