Students at a liberal university in Boulder, Colorado suprisingly blamed President Obama and the Democrats for the government shutdown, despite national polls indicating most Americans blame Republicans.
When asked why he blamed President Obama, one student said, "He's just being really stubborn, not willing to negotiate at all, not taking ideas from anybody else. It's either his way or the highway and apparently they shut down the government because of that."
Caleb Bonham, a Campus Reform reporter, asked students at the University of Colorado (CU Boulder) "Who Should We Blame" for the shutdown. At the end of the video, tallies put President Obama first with 11 votes, the Democrats next with 5, and the Republicans last – with a mere 2. In a statement to CP, Bonham listed 26 votes – 8 for Democrats, 15 for Obama, 2 for Republicans, and one rescinded.
This at a university where students signed a "Thank You" card to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for targeting Tea Party groups, where former ethnic studies Professor Ward Churchill taught that America deserved the September 11 attacks, and where a visiting conservative scholar was brought on as a "token conservative."
Indeed, this past May, Bonham presented students at CU Boulder a "Thank You IRS" letter with President Obama giving a thumbs-up. "We're sending a giant thank-you letter to the IRS thanking them for targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups," Bonham explained to passersby. He said that nearly 50 students signed the letter.
Nevertheless, a majority of students in the more recent video blamed Obama, rather than the Republicans, for the government shutdown. "Obamacare is stupid…You shouldn't be required to have health care," a female student said.
"I blame both parties because they can't agree with anything. I know preschoolers who get along better than the Republicans and Democrats," said another female student who voted to blame both parties. Recent polling shows that Americans in general blame both, but assign more guilt to Republicans. A CNN/ORC International poll, released Monday, showed 63 percent angry at Republicans, 57 percent angry at Democrats, and 53 percent at Obama.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich expressed his surprise that "the results are so dramatically better for Republicans and worse for the Democrats and Obama than I expected." He compared the 2013 shutdown to earlier shutdowns in November 1995 and December 1995-January 1996.
In 1995, 49 percent of Americans blamed Republicans, while 26 percent blamed then-President Bill Clinton. Republicans fared little better in 1996, when 52 percent blaming them and 38 percent blaming Clinton. Even so, the former House Speaker called the shutdowns a strategic victory – listing "four consecutive balanced budgets, welfare reform, the first tax cut in 16 years," and re-election of the Republican House majority in 1996.
Gingrich argued that Obama's public refusals to negotiate minimize the impact of "the media focusing blame on House Speaker John Boehner, Sen. Ted Cruz and the house Republicans." Like the students at CU Boulder, Americans are waking up to the role of President Obama and the Democrats in the shutdown struggle, Gingrich asserted.
"As I was asking the questions to the students in the video, I had on several occasions, students yell at me, 'It's Obama's fault,'" Bonham told CP in a message on Facebook. "That's when I knew where the students placed the blame for the shutdown." Since it wasn't a survey, Bonham did not have an explanation as for why the students thought this way, he said.