Though the movement is called "Occupy Wall Street," its protesters have spread from New York to other cities, including Washington, D.C. The fact that people are now camped out in the President Obama's own backyard—literally—illustrates a conundrum for the president. The growing energy behind "Occupy Wall Street" could be the spark the president needs to reignite his liberal base in time for the presidential election, especially as he will have to overcome the anti-Obama fervor of the Tea Party. Yet, as "Occupy DC" shows, many protesters blame Obama for being too friendly with Wall Street.
The president has recently tried to appeal to the antagonism towards big business, particularly by proposing the "Buffett Rule," which would raise taxes on many making more than $250,000 a year. He even said the movement reflected a "broad-based frustration about how our financial system works." But his opponents are not so chummy with the protesters. In addition to calling the Buffett Rule class warfare, some have even explicitly dismissed "Occupy Wall Street." Republican candidate for president Herman Cain said, "Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks, if you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself!" Even New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who ran as an independent in 2009 but often veers left on social issues, has distanced himself from "Occupy Wall Street." Bloomberg discouraged union members from backing the movement arguing that taxes from finance industry profits pay for public worker salaries and pensions.
Since "Occupy Wall Street" does not express a clear allegiance to Obama (if anything, protesters are critical of him too), any presidential pandering to the movement may backfire. In a lose-lose situation, he may alienate middle-of-the-road voters skeptical of "Occupy Wall Street" while failing to gain the support its the participants.
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Previously: Who Will Sarah Palin Fans Support for 2012?