As he and his daughters bicycle around the summer playground of the Northeastern elite, Martha's Vineyard, President Obama is steadily bleeding away both the support of the nation and that of his most loyal constituency.
Several times, his approval rating in Gallup's daily tracking poll has sunk to 39 percent, with disapproval reaching 54 percent. Support for his handling of the economy has dipped to the mid-20s. Only 11 percent of Americans, says Gallup, are satisfied with the way things are going.
Unemployment remains at 9 percent, as it has for two years. The Dow has lately lost 2,000 points, or $3 trillion in wealth wiped out. All that money the Fed pumped out is now being reflected not only in the price of gold, silver and Swiss francs, but in rising consumer prices -- inflation. One in five U.S. children is living in poverty.
Middle America, some time ago, decided the "hopey, changey thing" was not working out for them. Now the patience of African-Americans with a president for whom they voted 24 to one is wearing thin.
At a Black Caucus confab in Detroit, Rep. Maxine Waters told an angry audience that if and when Black America demands that they confront Obama, the caucus is ready "to have the conversation."
A collision between Obama and his base seems inevitable. For Black America's situation, though tough today, seems certain to get tougher. Why?
First, black Americans held a significant share of the subprime mortgages that went sour when housing prices went south, and are thus over-represented among those who lost homes.
Second, black Americans, with a higher rate of poverty, depend more on the entitlement and social programs that Obama cannot avoid hoisting onto the chopping block in any "balanced" plan for dealing with the deficit-debt crisis.
Third, African-Americans are over-represented among the 22 million who work for local, state and federal governments. And while government workers came out best in terms of job security and salary hikes in the stimulus days of 2009 and 2010, in the austerity days of 2011, they are getting their fair share of pink slips. It is almost a truism: Whenever Middle America goes into recession, Black America flirts with depression.
Consider the U.S. Postal Service, with 600,000 employees, running a deficit of $8.5 billion and facing layoffs of 120,000. According to William Burrus, ex-president of the Postal Workers Union, 21 percent of all postal employees are black. When the cuts come, minorities will take a big hit.