The Obama "Likability" Problem

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jul 27, 2010 4:13 PM
Keith Koffler, writing for Politico, discusses a disturbing fact for the President: Americans, increasingly, just don't like him.

But in a sense, this formulation has it backwards.  The biggest problem (for America, that is, not just for Obama's political fortunes) isn't that citizens don't like Obama; it's that there's a growing sense that Obama doesn't like us.

Take the whole issue of "relatability".  Now, Koffler reports, fully 30% of Americans feel they can't "relate" to the President.

Don't waste any breath arguing that it's the President's race or exotic background, libs.  After all, he brought both with him to The White House (and on the day he moved in there, only 8% found it difficult to relate).  Note, as well, that Ronald Reagan was a movie star and a President -- and movie stars are as exotic to most Americans as a boy who lived in Indonesia.

No, the biggest difference between Reagan and Obama has nothing to do with race, background or exoticism.  It has to do with their outlook.  Americans knew that Reagan (and FDR, for that matter) genuinely loved them . . . and what may matter more, they knew that Reagan respected them and loved this country, warts and all.

Increasingly, people aren't so sure about whether this President respects us -- or whether that respect extends to America as it is, even with all its flaws.  Sometimes it seems that, to him, America is only worth love, admiration and respect insofar as it conforms to, and changes in accordance with, his policies.   From his public statements, it's clear that he sees many Americans -- and all those who oppose his policies -- as selfish, greedy or otherwise morally defective.

That isn't a recipe for likability.  Unconditional love (or at least respect) sure isn't easy, but Americans expect it from their President.  And they're not feeling much of it flowing from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue these days.