No More Mr. Nice Guy

President Obama gets low marks from Americans on… pretty much everything, really. And yet he remains personally popular. Politico‘s Ben Smith looks at the numbers and says:


As I’ve written before, this puts the lie to the notion that we live in a time of unusually widespread personal loathing of the president — though obviously some people hate him intensely. It also suggests the origins of the approach you hear from Republicans like Jeb Bush and Bobby Jindal, and one I heard from Romney yesterday: Obama’s not a bad guy, he’s just totally out of his depth.

That number presages two things for the fall: First, things can still get worse for the president. One personal scandal or account of presidential pique could drive his numbers down further. Second, the temptation to make the election a personal choice and to run against a Republican’s character, not his policies — playing to the incumbent’s strength — will be close to irresistible.

But there’s a question here Smith didn’t bother himself with. And that is: Can Obama keep his personal popularity after going from “hope and change” to “Rottweiler-in-cheif.” That’s a tough act to pull off. In fact, I can’t think of any President who’s managed to do it.


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