May 22, 2012

Is it bitter partisanship to dislike Obama personally?


Maybe it’s because I’m not evolved, but I dislike the president personally. I think I have good reason for that, but maybe I’m wrong. I’m not racist. I’m not a birther or a kook. I’m not looking to see him out of office by any means other than through an Electoral College victory by his opponent (the less-than-adorable Mitt Romney). I don’t wish him any ill or harm. But I don’t like Barack Obama personally and I think I have some pretty good reasons for that.

There are a lot of polls out there indicating that president Obama has two distinct sets of polling numbers. First, there’s the poll that indicates his job approval numbers are under water. More people disapprove of the job he’s doing, particularly when it comes to the economy and health care, than approve of the job he’s doing. Yet there are a second set of numbers that are more favorable to the president. People like him personally. He continues to poll reasonably well on likability and that represents his greatest asset in terms of his re-election bid. You might think he’s doing a bad job but if you think he’s a nice guy, you may be willing to cut him some slack and give him another chance.

That’s just swell. Forget that this is not a street cleaner job – it’s the job as leader of the free world. Nice guy isn’t helpful – he needs to make the best decisions for the country and getting it wrong, despite being nice does harm to the nation. Besides, he’s not a nice guy.

Not nice is a matter of personal definition of course. A few common notions of nice are things like concern for others, honest, having integrity, having a grounded and moral belief system. Having empathy is another. Those are all reasonable definitions and it certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of what goes into personal likability. But let’s take a look at those attributes with respect to president Obama.

Starting with honesty, the president is already a letdown. He promised to be post-partisan but has governed from the hard left and has shown nothing but disdain and derision for conservative opinions or concerns. He has sought at every turn to distort and misrepresent the views of his opponents, resorting to straw man arguments to make his own positions seem more credible. He has gone from investing heavily in companies like to Solyndra to intimating that the specific decisions were handled at lower levels. He argues that he has evolved on gay marriage, but it would be the second time his position on the subject has changed – ending up apparently where he started. In other words, his previous position was there for the sole purpose of electability. The list of dishonest, or at a minimum less than honest actions speak to a lack of full honesty that goes beyond the need for a certain amount of presidential secrecy.

Concern for others is another area where actions speak louder than words. Remember the BP oil spill? The president insisted he was completely on top of the situation while his daily activities during the crisis were quite far removed from an active involvement in the solution, and were hard to reconcile with even a casual interest in the situation. Empathy? More like disdain for having to pay attention to it. How about his comments about the price of arugula or that the price of energy would skyrocket under his plan? The latter actually showed a moment of honesty but at the same time both his comments and his green energy pursuit may be viewed as noble in nature (I disagree) but they are certainly out of touch with the economic reality facing Americans. It has not resulted in jobs, just as the health care debacle did not materialize 400,000 jobs immediately as Nancy Pelosi (who hadn’t read the bill) promised it would immediately do. His actions may be empathetic, but if that is true, it is true only for a chosen few – his chosen few.

Don’t get me started on integrity. From tax cheats at the Treasury, to the beer summit, to the Fast and Furious scandal, to the Cornhusker Kickback, to having more flexibility with Putin on missile defence after he wins the next election, to his misdirection of the middle class on his desire to spread the wealth, integrity is not the first word to come to mind.

As for his grounded moral belief system – it is certainly grounded, but it is grounded in things I would argue are not at the heart of most people’s belief systems. From Jeremiah Wright to Ed Ayers, to his support of the leanings of the president are progressive, if not socialist. His stance on the church and its right and place are clearly anti-religion. Forcing Catholic hospitals to comply with abortion funding or lose government subsidies are clearly imposing his will upon the church and that will is contra-Catholic, despite Nancy Pelosi’s twisted interpretation of church teachings.

With all that evidence and more piled up against the president’s nice guy image, I don’t get it. Slow-jamming on late night talk shows doesn’t make him more likeable, that’s just a character he plays on TV. Maybe I’m less forgiving than others but I don’t think so. Sometimes when someone is angry or bitter it just shows through and I’m sure I’m seeing that with Obama. While I dislike Bill Clinton politically, I don’t dislike him personally. Sure, a lot of his supposed empathy is likely feigned but I don’t get the same sense from him as I do from president Obama or Jimmy Carter (who also seems bitter). Politically I disagree with all of them, but personally, there is variance in whether I find them likable personally. I don’t believe I’m being a partisan political hack when I say I don’t like president Obama personally. In fact, given the evidence, I’m not sure why there is a disconnect between his personal approval and his job approval – he is his job, and his job results are not good.
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