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Likable Enough?

Recently, the conventional wisdom has been that Obama’s slipping job approval rating is offset by the fact that Americans still like him on a personal level. But at the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger writes that the president’s recent behavior has done a lot to undermine his likeability:

The Barack Obama we’ve been seeing lately is a different personality than the one that made a miracle run to the White House in 2008. Obama.2008 was engaging, patient, open, optimistic and a self-identified conciliator. Obama.2011 has been something else—testy, petulant, impatient, arrogant and increasingly a divider.

Henninger is referring to Obama’s recent blowup at a Dallas reporter and his overtly partisan deficit speech. This testiness isn’t exactly new. Remember that there were signs of it even during the 2008 election, when Obama kicked the Washington Times, the New York Post, and the Dallas Morning News off his campaign plane after the papers endorsed Sen. John McCain.

His irritability didn’t attract much attention at the time. But the fact that Americans are now increasingly unhappy with his job performance means that they’re more likely to notice his personal faults. We’re already beginning to see this, with ABC News reporting that the president’s personal popularity ratings are at a career low.

And while an infatuated media glossed over Obama’s petulant behavior during the 2008 campaign, we may see a very different response to his 2012 bid. One of Obama’s biggest mistakes during his time in office may be his abrasive treatment of the press. After years of getting FOIA requests stonewalled, being berated by reportedly hostile White House press officials, and dealing with an unprecedented lack of transparency, the media may not be as eager to act as Obama’s personal cheering section again.


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