Recession Tests Citizens' Patience With Obama President Obama says bringing the country out of recession will take "many months and many different solutions." But some Americans may be losing patience with Obama as he struggles to improve the economy.
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Recession Tests Citizens' Patience With Obama

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Recession Tests Citizens' Patience With Obama

Recession Tests Citizens' Patience With Obama

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President Obama told reporters at his news conference last night that bringing the country out of recession will take many months and many different solutions. But how patient will Americans be?

That's a question NPR's David Greene has been asking a lot lately. He's on the road for Mr. Obama's first 100 days in office, talking to people and doing plenty of listening. We caught up with David today on the western edge of Indiana in the city of Terre Haute.

DAVID GREENE: I popped in for coffee this morning at Boo's Crossroads Cafe in downtown Terre Haute. It's known as a crossroad.

Ms. DOROTHY JERSE: Because this is the intersection of U.S. 40 and U.S. 41. And before the interstate, this was the big crossroads of America. We claim it.

GREENE: That's Dorothy Jerse. She's 82 and has been meeting the same women for breakfast every Wednesday for 25 years. When I sat down, these ladies were already talking about President Obama's news conference last night.

Ms. JERSE: He's always very matter-of-fact. That Obama-no-drama always shows through. That pleases me. And he's telling us as he sees it. It was nothing real, real new. He was just trying to get - win over the American people.

GREENE: Win over the American people. That's language I didn't hear much when I hit the road after inauguration day. At the time, there weren't many people Mr. Obama had to win over. These days, Dorothy Jerse says she's behind the president 100 percent, but she's beginning to worry about other people.

Ms. JERSE: It's going to depend how bad this gets. You know, if more and more and more and more people lose their jobs, people are going to get impatient, because you always blame the president.

GREENE: You came to sit next to me. You must want to tell me something.

Ms. CAROLYN TOOPS: Yeah. I want to just make a brief statement. I don't want to engage in a dialogue. Okay.

GREENE: I won't say anything.

Ms. TOOPS: All right then. Are you going to ask me who I am?

GREENE: Well, you told me I can't be in a dialogue with you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GREENE: I'm just kidding. Yes, introduce yourself, if you can.

Ms. TOOPS: Okay. I'm Carolyn Toops, T-O-O-P-S. I have been a resident of Terre Haute for a good many years. I'm originally from Louisiana. No, I did not watch the speech last night. However, I would just like to say that I think it's unfair to expect the new president to handle this when he has been in office less than three months. I wish him well. Thank you.

GREENE: President Obama does have his defenders, and I heard from them the last few days in Indiana and Ohio. But there are some people growing frustrated. Yesterday I was in Dayton, Ohio in an artsy cobblestone district downtown. Along the sidewalk, there's music playing outside the bars and coffeehouses.

(Soundbite of music)

GREENE: Inside one coffee shop, I met Matthew Rankin. He's a 24-year-old college student. He says President Obama did pick a good team when he took office.

Mr. MATTHEW RANKIN: There are a lot of people that he's chosen that should know what they're talking about.

GREENE: Rankin says Mr. Obama and his Cabinet have been explaining their thinking to the American people, and that's a good thing. But he worries their approach to this recession may be, as he puts it, too intellectual.

Mr. RANKIN: You're always trying to find out what the next fact is. And you're always trying to collect more information, trying to get more of an informed opinion on what you need to do. And sometimes you really just do need to just, like, stop, take charge of the situation, make a decision for better or for worse, and then, you know, move on and kind of keep progressing.

(Soundbite of song, "You've Lost that Loving Feeling")

Unidentified Woman (Singer): (Singing) You've lost that loving feeling...

GREENE: Up the street, outside a music store, I met Joe Grunenwald, who was buying a few CDs. He talked about really struggling with his feelings toward the president these days.

Mr. JOE GRUNENWALD: You know, it's just - I was excited going in. And it's hard to be excited now. Just, I mean, and I know, you know, things take time, obviously. But it seems like things are moving slower than I guess I expected they would.

GREENE: Grunenwald is 26. And the day before New Year's Eve, he lost his job at a publishing company.

Mr. GRUNENWALD: I'm having trouble finding anything to hold onto as far as hope and, you know, something to look forward to, I guess.

GREENE: Don't get him wrong. Grunenwald said he still supports Mr. Obama. He's just hoping those new jobs the president talks about are coming soon.

I'm David Greene, NPR News.

SIEGEL: And if you want to follow David's travels, you can go to

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