Doug Wilder Sours on Obama

by John Fund

What does the first African-American governor elected since Reconstruction think of the nation’s first African-American president?  

Doug Wilder made history in 1989 by becoming governor of Virginia, overcoming great odds. He governed as a moderate, balancing his budget during a recession without raising taxes and even made an abortive run for president in 1992 before realizing that Bill Clinton had the Democratic party’s heart that year.

Since then, Wilder has remained engaged in politics. At times he has infuriated Democrats with his pungent criticism of liberal orthodoxy. But at other times he has been a loyal Democrat, enthusiastically backing Barack Obama in 2008 and this year supporting former Virginia governor Tim Kaine for Senate. But so far this year he has not formally endorsed Barack Obama.

Wilder sounds down and depressed about Obama’s record and prospects now. He thinks the president took his eye off the ball by not emphasizing job creation during the last four years. He told the Washington Examiner that Obama didn’t deliver on his promise to govern in a moderate way that would be inclusive. “I think he’s governed left of center and didn’t focus on jobs and economic recovery,” he says. Asked if he will vote for Obama, Wilder half-dodged the question, saying with a chuckle: “I have not said anything differently.”

He was more expansive when discussing Mitt Romney: “All three of the debates have shown [Romney] to be a different person than some of the ads say.” Doesn’t sound negative at all to me.

And he had more to say. “I think that there is a need for better cooperation in Washington, and I think Kaine will be that person,” he told the Examiner. “Obama needs to have more of that if he’s to be elected. Romney has shown that he has done that when he was governor of Massachusetts working with a Democratic legislature.”

As for who would win Virginia now, Wilder thinks Obama has lost a lot of support among independents who allowed him to become the first Democrat to carry the Old Dominion since 1964: “I know he’d be happy to have 50.1 [percent] today.”

All in all, who do you think Doug Wilder is most likely to vote for? 

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