Remember when President Barack Obama was likable? Once upon a time the public viewed the incumbent more favorably than his challenger by large margins. These days Obama’s favorable and unfavorable ratings are similar to Mitt Romney’s. The televised debates have unveiled the current administration as alternately listless, manic, angry, soporific, rude, bullying, aloof, and thin-skinned. Americans who have just begun to tune into the election are seeing the president unmediated. They no longer are looking at him through the scrim of fawning press, majestic settings, and roaring crowds. And they are discovering that Obama is not so likable at all. He is actually something of a jerk.
Those who read coverage of the Obama administration closely will have known this for a long time: The president is cold, abstract, prickly, and insular. His brand of cerebral partisanship is better suited for liberal blogging than for leading the free world. He doesn’t enjoy interacting with strangers or even with associates outside his immediate clique. He has few close friends. He relies on about half a dozen senior advisers. His impromptu speech is given to cutting, sarcastic remarks.