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NewsNew York

Harlem's love affair with Obama lives on

A mural of President Barack Obama in Harlem

A mural of President Barack Obama in Harlem between Adam Calyton Powell and 154th Street. Credit: Alakananda Nag

His poll numbers have their share of ups and downs, but two years into his first term, President Barack Obama still holds on to his popularity in Harlem. There’s no hard stats to prove it, all you need to do is walk around.

His face is found on shirts, walls, and tablecloths, and the residents and those frequenting the neighborhood are still optimistic about his presidency, despite the obstacles they see him facing.

“So far, he’s doing what he can,” said Frankie Ramos, 49, of West Harlem. “The first term is finishing what Bush did, and the second is to do what he wants to do. Give him a chance. You can’t judge someone on the first term.”

When it comes to political struggles, Obama’s woes have truly been bipartisan. He’s tussled with the GOP over the health care bill, and upset his own party by when he extended the Bush tax cuts.

“I think he’s done the best he can do in the circumstances,” said James Bethea, 24, of West Harlem. “Like he said, it wasn’t going to be an overnight thing. There’s more he could do, but with the disagreements between the Republicans and some of the Democrats, it’s hard for one man.”

Entering office with boasts of “hope and change,” Obama may also may be the victim of his own high expectations, some say.
“A lot of people might be declining in support because it’s a lot of talk, and they say he doesn’t do things fast enough, that he hasn’t got enough done,” said Craig Robinson, 55, of Morningside Heights.

But most that we spoke to still applaud how Obama has approached his presidency and are optimistic about the rest of his term and the possibility of his re-election.

“For the first time, I feel like we have a personal relationship. That’s nice, feeling like I have a personal relationship with the president,” said Keisha Speight, 26.

She said her friends also have lost their love for the president.
“We’re still Obama crazy,” she said.


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